Saturday, April 27, 2013

In My Dreams....But Seriously Folks

I’ve been around the block a few times, had women from Shanghai to Singapore. In fact I was once Shanghaied to Singapore. I shaved Samson for Delilah, knew Bathsheba biblically. I twirled Ginger away from Astaire, took Liz for hot fudge on a hot tin roof and ended DiMaggio’s streak with Marilyn. I’ve had stars in Bollywood from bars in Hollywood, got Bergman from Bogey with letters of transit, taught Bacall how to whistle, kissed Kim under mistle in Kismayou, met with Josephine on the outskirts of Waterloo. I gave a damn with O’Hara, spied with Mata Hari, put up with Mia and shoved Sinatra aside to catch Ava. I went East of Eden with Mae West and south to Rio with Nanook of the North. I’ve been in every port from Switzerland to Nebraska, known geishas from Kyoto and J-Lo in Pollo Loco. I hung with Virginia before Bloomsbury bloomed, Gatsby’s Daisy before she blossomed and Claire Bloom before Portnoy complained. I’ve intuited with Inuits and hit Brad Pitt with a writ for whomever he’s with. I Kaned Orson for Rita, caroused with Lolita, even rode with Zita in Santa Anita. 

But Peggy has them all wondering how. How at 92 (on Thursday) she can do what she does, make a fiction of those numbers, give the lie to calendars, live with the zest of a dyslexic 29.

Where I see a weed her eye sees dried pods exhausted from bursting, zigged elbows zagging at impossible angles, constellations pulled down from Pleiades. How can she write a poem each morning? Because she contains multitudes, lives expansively in the country of her imagination, because she speaks a language of the vivid unseen where the music stops and birds kindle the forest. She articulates the pause between words, the hum of connective tissue and marries phrases unmet before. For all opaque life that slips by, the tedium and malady of the unremembered ordinary, Peggy has found a portal, a mid-distance perch from which to silence the noise, halt the parade, assemble and caption the collage.

With a photograph of bicycles as her subject Peggy leaps from pedals to wheeling petals delivered into the winddrawn through the fog into the bravery of trees. About the Watts Towers she writes, A huge Hosanna as the sky is pierced / He measured his immeasurable gratitude, cast it in steel, a winding salutation /… The towers keep their vigil / his adopted land / reversing the indebtedness. From the day’s headlines Peggy imagines, Water buffalo laze in the river… Idyllic / Her body a carnival for men since ten /… That old Paradise / too far gone to be remembered. She will feed / the household, wait for the parachute of night.

For this she rivals Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets of the Portuguese from Wimpole St. or Emily of Amherst who traveled the world in her room. Peggy’s long reach didn’t drop to earth like an unexploded drone; she cultivated it over time as a second language. Writing as a poet means living as a poet. Her words are an extension of how she embraces her life, alert to slits of sun printing on the wall, the baby upstairs  (small feet instead of rain), a garbage truck backing up; to a persistent pondering and unrelenting sympathy with other’s predicaments and expression of this immeasurable love between us.          

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