Monday, February 8, 2021

Snow Temple

". . . Snow was falling now, weaving itself into a single fabric.
He could barely make out the temple.
Every familiar thing was taking itself away
." (95 - 96)

"In any quiet town you can find a street, a field, a stand of trees, which breaks into the dreams of its citizens years after the dreamers have left home for good. For generations of dreamers in Ann Arbor the Island has beckoned . . . On the Island . . . stands a modest Greek temple with a roof like the lid of a fancy tureen and a colonnade running all around. Is it a circular temple proper to the worship of Hermes in winged cap and winged sandals, sacred to crossroads, the messenger of the dead? Is it sacred to the genius of this place?

Island Park ~ Ann Arbor, Michigan

"No. The temple is sacred to two toilets hidden at opposite ends behind appropriately marked doors. From far off, the graffiti on the doors do not show and the rough plaster walls might pass for Carrara marble. . . . you might look out of train window and think you are passing the temple of love . . . And long after you've forgotten where you are going and why you are going there, the temple will appear to you in dreams, and you will wonder if your soul lived here before it put on its burden of flesh.

"On this cloudy day the temple hung over the river like a ghostly sepulcher. Snow added its cubits to the stature of the roof, the trees, the picnic tables spread as if with that hidden fabric called "the silence cloth" by housewives who keep it under the finder damask one, to absorb the clatter of dishes and silver. Snow softened the bare limbs of the bushes. . . . A single twig was now a thing of great beauty: a wand, a power, a glory. A sign.
(93 - 94)

"A footbridge joins the right bank to . . .
the Island -- for so it is called, as if
no other island were worthy of the name
. . . " (93)


Further information concerning the magical realism
of Nancy Willard's novel, whose title
-- Things Invisible to See --
is taken from John Donne:

Song: Go and Catch a Falling Star

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true, and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet;
Though she were true, when you met her,
nd last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

John Donne (1572 - 1631)

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