Repeating Patterns

A few years ago, my daughter bent all the paper clips in our house into necklaces, a project involving pliers and colored beads, with incredibly cool results. One necklace still hangs from the windowsill in my room, crooked over the sill.

At the time, I was running a business out of our house that involved frequent and complicated mailings. One morning, I fumed around the house, muttering about the lack of paper clips, before I realized all those boxes of small metal pieces had been transformed into kid art.

There’s one pattern in my life: my intent adult life knocked up against the busyness of childhood.

In the end that day, I mailed out those so important papers sans paper clips, and here I am, years later, having forgotten what was on those papers while the necklace still hangs over my desk.

In the penetrating damp
I sleep under the bamboos….
One by one the stars go out.
Only the fireflies are left.
Birds cry over the water.
War breeds its consequences.
It is useless to worry,
Wakeful while the long night goes.

– Tu Fu, from “A Restless Night in Camp,” in David Hinton’s The Wilds of Poetry: Adventures in Mind and Landscape

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