the perishing residue of pure sensation

Posted by on January 27, 2010

Some weeks ago my sweet friend Molly told me about a circle of women bloggers who post a poem every Wednesday. She encouraged me to join in, thinking that I am probably a person who likes poetry and would enjoy such a thing. She was right. In fact I picked out a poem, then proceeded to think about posting it for about five (four? six? I can’t be sure) Poetry Wednesdays in succession.

I am also given to understand that Wednesdays are Anti-procrastination Day. This comes from the Fly Lady, who’s advice, mentoring, and coaching I receive daily via e-mail since I signed up in early November. She has helped dreamy, emotion and idea-oriented me in innumerable ways to be more in control of all things practical. One of her strategies for getting things done is to set a timer and tell yourself that you are only going to work on something for fifteen minutes (or ten, or five). The timer begins, and you go. This helps me tremendously. It is as if two firm, black brackets, like bodyguards, have been planted in the air around my soul. My emotions and squirrely thoughts, no matter how bratty, insolent, or pushy, must take a time-out on the outsides of the brackets. On the inside: just action. Since carrying around a timer (gosh, it sounds kind of pathetic) I’ve realized just how often my thoughts and feelings bind me to inactivity. But today it occurs to me that maybe the same qualities in me that draw me to poetry are the same qualities that cause me to eschew action in favor of thought. I don’t really want to change that in any fundamental way; I like poetry. But in honor of Anti-procrastination Wednesday and Poetry Wednesday I am taking action to get my blog unstuck from inactivity. “I can think of three things that I have procrastinated doing that I am going to do today,” says the Fly Lady. “What are your three things? Set your timer, and go.”

After I finish copying out this poem by Amy Clampitt that I picked out a now blurry but substantial number of weeks ago, and which I like even just for the title alone, even though I realize that it is kind of pretentious (why say “nibble” instead of “eat”?) I am going to pay my student loan online and organize our disheveled storage closet, lest a bike helmet or some other object dislodge from the top shelf and knock me out cold the next time I go to open its door. The last line of each stanza is supposed to be centered, and I cannot figure out how to do that in html. But I am posting this anyway. There is a crying baby next to me that needs attention.


cold nights on the farm, a sock-shod
stove-warmed flatiron slid under
the covers, mornings a damascene-
sealed bizarrerie of fernwork
decades ago now

waking in northwest London, tea
brought up steaming, a Peak Frean
biscuit alongside to be nibbled
as blue gas leaps up singing
decades ago now

damp sheets in Dorset, fog-hung
habitat of bronchitis, of long
hot soaks in the bathtub, of nothing
quite drying out till next summer:
delicious to think of

hassocks pulled in close, toasting-
forks held to coal-glow, strong-minded
small boys and big eager sheepdogs
muscling in on bookish profundities
now quite forgotten

the farmhouse long sold, old friends
dead or lost track of, what’s salvaged
is this vivid diminuendo, unfogged
by mere affect, the perishing residue
of pure sensation

Posted in: Poetry Wednesday
  1. Emily Lorelli
    January 27, 2010

    Julia — What a lovely poem (it's still unfolding for me; I need to read it again in a while) and a beautiful picture. Your writing is so full and warm; I look forward to reading more of your posts and the poems you find.

  2. Jennifer
    January 27, 2010

    I think Molly is the evangelist for this group! I got here by way of her blog and am so glad that you posted this beautiful poem.

  3. Julia
    January 27, 2010

    Thanks, both of you. I think I'm going to like having an assignment of sorts for Wednesdays. Maybe it will keep my blog moving along better than it has been.

  4. Molly Sabourin
    January 27, 2010

    Oh Julia, hip hip hooray! I am delighted you participated in Poetry Wednesday. You are absolutely right, that title alone is so delicious. I agree with Emily (Hi Emily! : ) ) your poem choice should be read (slowly savored) again and again, and "full" and "warm" most definitely describe your graceful writing style.

    I love that you carry around a kitchen timer.

  5. Beth
    January 27, 2010

    Welcome to poetry Wednesday Julia. So glad you have joined. And thank you for your post and poem. I first heard of The Fly Lady via Molly and though I am yet to become completely bound to the timer, it does really come in handy. Look forward to reading more of your posts.

  6. Kris Livovich
    January 28, 2010

    Welcome, Julia! I'm so glad you have decided to post!

    I find at times my husband is my timer and motivation. Today he had an extra half hour and decided to clean the fridge… which meant I HAD to clean something else! Timers, husbands, whatever keeps us from procrastinating.

  7. Jenny
    January 28, 2010


    I love the poem, and love that you are reading Fly Lady. Maybe if I was getting her emails, my Christmas cards wouldn't still sit in a heap in my closet. Errg. Where is my timer?

  8. amber
    January 28, 2010

    Jules, I love the poem! As someone who grew up without central heating in the damp PNW, it captures the morning scene perfectly.

    I have procrastinated your fly lady for awhile. I can only try so many attempts being more effective at a time, and C and I are re-reading *7 Habits* aloud these days.

    Do you have to get a special invitation to join this poetry wednesday?

  9. Julia
    January 28, 2010

    Thanks, Amber. I didn't know you grew up without central heating. Now that I think about it: we had central heating but didn't use it that much in Florida. You just try to get by with space heaters and contrary to popular opinion, it does get chilly in Florida. It does make for a more sensory relationship with the weather.

    I also just realized that I forgot to link to the main hub blog for Poetry Wednesday. I need to do that now. I'll add an addendum. I don't get the impression that you have to be specially invited. You'll see what I mean when you go there. I think you just enter your name and add your link.

  10. anna j
    January 30, 2010

    Yeah–a new Julia post! 🙂
    It's interesting to me how many themes life has, both big and small. I had not looked at Fly Lady for years now but earlier this week my Mom passed along the thought for the day, thinking it would encourage me. And it did, to the point of tears!
    I'm also interested in this idea of Poem Wednesdays . .