Analogue: When Myth & Reality Really Do Conflate

Anita Sullivan banner

“But such hasty assumptions would ruin an ancient double-monster analogy/of particularly delicate dreadfulness, the current manifestation of which/ we recognize to be—just lately—infiltrating this and/ other trainyards each night/but do not call out its common name while we endure through sleep.”—Anita Sullivan

On the Other Hand

By Anita Sullivan

Night/Train/Stars. (Image derives from Pinterest [].)
Night/Train/Stars. (Image derives from Pinterest.)

Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—1 December 2020

“Analogue: When Myth and Reality Really Do Conflate”
By Anita Sullivan

The furies are especially loud tonight inside their landing corridor
next to the local train yard two blocks from where I live.

Especially loud tonight when they return to the plinths
where they stand invisible in plain sight through daylight,
exuding vapors and dribbling shards of darkness
into a wilderness of forgotten slots.
Here they come for their nightly landing, whooping hysterically above
the normal clangs and reverberations of the coupling cars; here,
on the wrong side of the tracks, where I live and keep watch.

Howling theatrically while they break the dimension
barrier—(and why it does not kill them)—howling each time
like creatures from a unique and otherwise unexplored and
undocumented hell. You’d be pardoned for thinking they are
the trains, or that they are metaphors for the trains, or they are
the actual Greek Furies who have recently learned to disguise themselves
by emulating trainhood in all ways.

But such hasty assumptions would ruin an ancient double-monster analogy
of particularly delicate dreadfulness, the current manifestation of which
we recognize to be – just lately – infiltrating this and other trainyards each night
but do not call out its common name while we endure through sleep.

Night/Piano/Stars. (Image derives from Wallhere)
Night/Piano/Stars. (Image derives from Wallhere)

Tonight I woke from a dream that arrived, whole and entire, as a
kind of amicus curiae to this uneasy juxtaposition between powerful
dark entities of mythical stature playing out in my neighborhood.

A famous and competent pianist has agreed to give a concert only
if she may use a particular nine-foot Steinway that is gorgeous but infamously
accident prone. She (who is also me), will play the twelve fugues
of Paul Hindemith’s “Ludus Tonalis” by memory,
in an enormous salon with pillars and potted plants. The largely invisible audience
is scattered through the room at six foot intervals.

One by one any number of predictable accidents occur: the lid prop slides out—
fortunately on its short-stick; a black key slips off; several notes refuse
to repeat fast enough and the action has to be pulled for a quick adjustment
of the balancier; an agraffe cracks, causing a string to plunge rapidly in pitch
like a train whistle, swallowed whole while the train is rushing past.

This is not fate, but a randomly generated series of mishaps
that we all know will continue, relentlessly, with no ultimate purpose,
like paper, scissors, rock (an analogy). Never in the dream
does the piano actually make a piano sound, despite several accident-free intervals
in which the pianist is seen moving her fingers up and down.

Tonight I lie on my back in my bed scarcely two blocks away, eyes closed,
uncertain of my role in this drama, not quite innocent witness,
not quite guilty participant (another analogy). I keep asking,
“Is this the normal nightly melodrama of the trains?
Or has something fundamental changed?”

Long quavering moans of anguish, ear-splitting crashes
and attendant reverberations continue in the usual fashion throughout the night.
At length I relax and revert to my customary analogy of the La Brea tar pits
drowning its nightly quota of monster reptiles—which takes me off to sleep.

To order Anita Sullivan’s books, The Rhythm Of It and/or And if the Dead Do Dream, click on the book covers below.

“The Rhythm of It: Poetry’s Hidden Dance,” by Anita Sullivan.

Sullivan And if the Dead Do Dream

Comments Off on Analogue: When Myth & Reality Really Do Conflate

Born under the sign of Libra, Anita Sullivan cheerfully admits to a life governed by issues of balance and harmony. This likely led to her 25-year career as a piano tuner, as well as her love of birds (Libra is an air sign), and love of gardening, music, and fine literature (beauty). She spent years trying to decide if she was a piano tuner who wrote poetry, or a poet who tuned pianos. She traveled a lot without giving way to a strong urge to become a nomad; taught without becoming a teacher; danced without becoming a dancer; and fell totally in love with the high desert country of the Southwest, and then never managed to stay there. However, Sullivan did firmly settle the writing question—yes, it turns out she is a writer, but not fixed upon any one category. She has published four essay collections, a novel, two chapbooks and one full-length book of poetry, and many short pieces in journals. Most recently, her essay collection The Rhythm Of It: Poetry’s Hidden Dance, indulges her instinct to regard contemporary free-verse poetry as being built upon natural proportional rhythm patterns exhibited in music and geography, and therefore quite ancient and disciplined—not particularly “free” at all. This book was a finalist for the Montaigne Medal from the Eric Hoffer Book Award. More about her books can be found on her website: The poet-piano-tuner-etc. also maintains an occasional blog, “The Poet’s Petard,” which may be accessed here here. (Author Head Shot Augment: René Laanen.)