from My Life: A name trimmed with colored ribbons
with colored husking corn, shelling peas. Houses
ribbons of wood set in the ground. I try to
find the spot at which the pattern on
the floor repeats. Pink, and rosy,
quartz. They wade in brackish water.
The leaves outside the window
tricked the eye, demanding that one see them, focus on them,
making it impossible to look past them, and though holes
were opened through the foliage, they were as useless as port-
holes underwater looking into a dark sea, which only reflects
the room one seeks to look out from. Sometimes into
benevolent and other times into ghastly shapes. It speaks of a
few of the rather terrible blind. I grew stubborn until blue as
the eyes overlooking the bay from the bridge scattered over
its bowls through a fading light and backed by the protest of
the bright breathless West. Each bit of jello had been molded
in tiny doll dishes, each trembling orange bit a different
shape, but all otherwise the same. I am urged out rummaging
into the sunshine, and the depths increase of blue above. A
paper hat afloat on a cone of water. The orange and gray
bugs were linked from their mating but faced in opposite
directions, and their scrambling amounted to nothing. This
simply means that the imagination is more restless than the
body. But, already, words. Can there be laughter without
comparisons. The tongue lisps in its hilarious panic. If, for ex-
ample, you say, “I always prefer being by myself,” and, then,
one afternoon, you want to telephone a friend, maybe you
feel you have betrayed your ideals. We have poured into the
sink the stale water in which the iris died. Life is hopelessly
frayed, all loose ends. A pansy suddenly, a web, a trail
remarkably’s a snail’s. It was an enormous egg, sitting in the
vineyard—an enormous rock-shaped egg. On that still day
my grandmother raked up the leaves beside a particular
pelargonium. With a name like that there is a lot you can do.
Children are not always inclined to choose such paths. You
can tell by the eucalyptus tree, its shaggy branches scatter
buttons. In the afternoons, when the shades were pulled for
my nap, the light coming through was of a dark yellow, near-
ly orange, melancholy, as heavy as honey, and it made me
thirsty. That doesn’t say it all, nor even a greater part. Yet it
seems even more incomplete when we were there in person.
Half the day in half the room. The wool makes one itch and
the scratching makes one warm. But herself that she obeyed
she dressed. It talks. The baby is scrubbed everywhere, he is
an apple. They are true kitchen stalwarts. The smell of
breathing fish and breathing shells seems sad, a mystery, rap-
turous, then dead. A self-centered being, in this different
world. A urinating doll, half-buried in sand. She is lying on
her stomach with one eye closed, driving a toy truck along
the road she has cleared with her fingers. I mean untroubled
by the distortions. That was the fashion when she was a
young woman and famed for her beauty, surrounded by
beaux. Once it was circular and that shape can still be seen
from the air. Protected by the dog. Protected by foghorns,
frog honks, cricket circles on the brown hills. It was a
message of happiness by which we were called into the room,
as if to receive a birthday present given early, because it was
too large to hide, or alive, a pony perhaps, his mane trimmed
with colored ribbons.
Lyn Hejinian, “A name trimmed with colored ribbons” from My Life. Copyright © 1987 by Lyn Hejinian. Reprinted with the permission of Green Integer Books, www.greeninteger.com.
Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.
Poet Lyn Hejinian b. 1941
POET’S REGION U.S., Western
SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry
Poetic Terms Prose Poem
Poems by Lyn Hejinian
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- Final Section from "Eleven Eyes"
- from My Life: Reason looks for two, then arranges it from there
- from The Fatalist: Come October, it's the lake not the border
More poems by Lyn Hejinian (13 poems)
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- from Writing Is an Aid to Memory: 16.
- from Writing Is an Aid to Memory: 17.
- [A straight rain is rare...]
- [But isn’t midnight intermittent]
- [The water was rising...]