Extra Hidden Life, among the Days

Extra Hidden Life, among the Days

by Brenda Hillman

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Overview

Brenda Hillman begins her new book in a place of mourning and listening that is deeply transformative. By turns plain and transcendent, these poems meditate on trees, bacteria, wasps, buildings, roots, and stars, ending with twinned elegies and poems of praise that open into spaces that are both magical and archetypal for human imagination: forests and seashores. As always, Hillman's vision is entirely original, her forms inventive and playful. At times the language turns feral as the poet feels her way toward other consciousnesses, into planetary time. This is poetry as a discipline of love and service to the world, whose lines shepherd us through grief and into an ethics of active resistance. Hillman's prior books include Practical Water and Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which received the Griffin Prize for Poetry. Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days is a visionary and critically important work for our time. A free reader's companion is available online at http://brendahillman.site.wesleyan.edu.

Hardcover is un-jacketed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819578945
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication date: 04/02/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 152
Sales rank: 1,200,162
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

BRENDA HILLMAN is an activist, writer, editor, and teacher. She has published nine collections of poetry, all from Wesleyan University Press, including Practical Water, for which she won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry. Hillman serves on the faculty of Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California, as the Olivia Filippi professor of poetry.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Forests of Grief & Color

Perhaps grief is imagined to end in violence, as if grief itself could be killed. Can we perhaps find one of the sources of nonviolence in the capacity to grieve, to stay with the unbearable loss without converting it into destruction? If we could bear our grief, would we be less inclined to strike back or strike out? And if the grief is unbearable, is there another way to live with it that is not the same as bearing it?

Judith Butler, "On Grief and Rage"

This mycorrhizal network architecture suggests an efficient and robust network, where large trees play a foundational role in facilitating conspecific regeneration and stabilizing the ecosystem.

"Architecture of the wood-wide web: Rhizopogon spp. genets link multiple Douglas-fir cohorts" http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.03069.x/full ... I will open my dark saying upon the harp.

Psalm 49

On a Day, In the World

We had a grief we didn't understand while standing at the edge of some low scrub hills as if humans were extra or already gone; —

what had been in us before?
a life that asks for mostly wanting freedom to get things done in order to feel less helpless about the end of things alone —;

when i think of time on earth,
i feel the angle of gray minutes entering the medium days yet not "built-up":: our work together: groups, the willing burden of an old belief,

& beyond them love, as of a great life going like fast creatures peeling back marked seeds, gold-brown integuments the color time will be when we are gone —

Whose Woods These Are We Think

(ekphrastic haibun)

When they ask "What are you working on now that the elements are finished" i say the elements are never finished; in China they have metal, in India they have ether, in the West we are short on time. Wood has also been named as an element. In white Euro fairy tales, children are sent into the woods, probably the Black Forest, carrying baskets covered with cloth made by child laborers just as factories are beginning. When i first read the Frost snowy woods piece as a desert child in the 60s, i experienced a calm as he enters the whose woods these are he thinks he knows, though i didn't know that many woods in Tucson or a little horse thinking it queer or a village. What would it have been like to be sent out with a small covered basket if you were a peasant child into what we now call the ecotone, the region between two environments — a marsh with striped frogs for example — then on into the woods where a peasant uprising is being planned.

We have sent them all into the woods We have sent them all into the woods We have sent them all into the woods

& we know exactly whose thin logged-out woods these are. What do people need from poetry during the changes? The changes are immeasurable. Perception, form, & material locked into the invisible. Many need calm poetry, especially at weddings where they feel uneasy, & i would certainly write that way if i believed calm were key to any of it, but if what woods are left are lovely, dark, deep, they are also oblique, obscure, magical, owned for profit, full of fragile unnamed species, scarce on time, time that barely exists though people base their lives on imagining it does. i hoped to find some wisdom to send back to you & that is what i am working on now, my present hopeful wild & unknown friends ...

All-night Crooked Moonrise over Mountain Pines

  Scraping, on the horizon — & the disk rose, throbbing, to the triple cloud —
  in the forest, the enigma responded:

    a wood mind swayed on the crest while the angle brought ground water,
always a thin other, down
    to the river ... Through lace life, late life
  light rises bent /// — you stand a while;

  & if, at midnight, that raw moon
  slashes your bed
  through the cage of the blinds,

oh now the sweet owl calls to its cripple
  & hurries across the meadow

where t i m e is carried, tranquil & stretched
  — — how can knowledge spread itself thus,
unable to sort itself out? & you might weather this:

  you feared no one would love you
  & when they did, you feared
  you would not be forgiven

such a small word, time
yet it is friends with both nothings —


The Bride Tree Can't Be Read

The bride tree puts down its roots below the phyla. It is there when we die & when we are born,
middle & upper branches reaching the planet heart by the billions during a revolution we don't see.

Quarks & leptons are cooling on their infant stems, spinning the spinning brain of matter, fled to electrical dark water, species with names the tree can hold in the shale shade brought by the ambulance of art;

no one but you knows what occurred in the dress you wore in the dream of atonement, the displaced tree in the dream you wore, a suffering endurable only once, edges that sought release from envy to a more endurable loss,

a form to be walked past, that has outworn the shame of time,
its colors sprung through description above a blaze of rhizomes spreading in an arable mat that mostly isn't simple but is calm & free —


Brief Walk at Salt Point Park

  — seal pupsar-ar-ar- —

& the skin of the soul felt a chill,
  especially the left side of the
S, facing the Pacific (specific Pacific
  specific Pacific ar ar ar);

sandstock burdock pines s human

(does the s move toward pines or spines?)

— buckwheat up a hill hardpan finding the rim of the miracle —

fear blue shade sense
  blind made what tense
    pigmy cypress trill or hill

(knowledge did not wreck experience —)

weather warped& nations fell
  over the edge of the miracle —

What thus doth keep love safe, brittle rhymer
Depends on what you mean by safe, little climber

(To know without fear the mind of another)


For the Lovers Abandoned in Sunlight

Some friends had broken up —;
i didn't think they should,
but still ... (The bees had also flown away to the chrome woods —
maybe the workers went ahead, but how?
No one understood — ) The lovers lifted yeses then a no ...
Why? (let's not get into a whole thing about it ...) Their hours never snagged despair; why could they not have loved each other more?

One day the hive returned,
like a gold thought in the gray context of an oversight ...
the lovers would find others all too soon with basic need less passionate than the first; i went on with my reading & the bees worked right up to the finished dusk as if their house would stay near mine in a drought-
tested thicket remote in time —


During a Suite by Gaspar Cassadó

Transfixed by the bow

only simply above: sighs of wood

& of the cello, horsehair breath your azure perceptions /// ...

(does it perceive also?)

as if pierced by saudades!

This night tangled far from your pain with frog song

(such distance to the next town)

& your suffering cannot be measured —
não a luar

in this universal background —


Beneath a Dying Coast Live Oak

— to have made the mistake of not caring — for one day! —
you stood in the parking lot ...
globe where, on the ground:
of the wasp gall (the pupae cannot peek out through tiny Garamond ellipsis dots of the outer shell ...)
when suddenly, above:
grrr rrrrr gimme gimme gimme
squirrels trying to mate in the oak, the dire twain of their warring tails ...
(sex is so much trouble outdoors!)

— the fear the loved ones would end up alone since humans will not modify desire, & nothing comes together anymore —
democracy & time,
from da: to divide —
there was the love you could not live without, & you had lost it, though you stood inside the life that gave you life —


[& heard a humming, like the]

— & heard a humming, like the start of time ...
& when the wind agreed,
the knobs of song molecules fit into a knowledge heard the frog,
the humming, without fear —
(puffball, spinning, among the dimensions: —
wears itself out,
wears itself out, by evening ...)
to know, what, in a day?
to have thought the children safe,& the little woods —
that thought must be given back ...

not safe, & lost — you could text but they might not text back ...
Not to be undone by this.
(even if?) even if.
(even if?) even if.
... to rest with what must be given up: there was a breaking at the start of time,
then love that broke the breaking ...


The Forests of Grief & Color

— Listening,
past the hazel bank. ... the changed life lies under, prior to purr —; new species grow cold spores, inside casing strewn Groups ... & nations howl unseen ... The mind god-labors pumping itself green. It's then your true eye gathers its half loves; pollen floats upstream in doubt,
in the shadow of a drought;
(put the phone down,
you're just about out of opposites, oh,
dark evening — sink ...)

In brief woods, there's lignan at work, past profit,
such comfort to decay, wood mind would, so small to say: "apart, fled" —!
Hold in hope, not ... out! not to go out among them, yet ...
(to have important work among the dead —)


The Before Sleep Kind of Everything

(What is the edge of the self —?)
(The edge of the self is the f, its awning of breath —)
The old woman greets death in her bed — — the peril cloud ascends — "well done!"
She dozes off & feels for those she cannot help but feel fear for —;

Over the ledge of sound — Vast sage!
It visits her,
she must sleep widely then. — And when the mild dead hover ... she clings clings clings to the rim of the prayer wheel — Now

motion goes on to release her —;
she helped you unknow the half-true —.

After, she greets the greeters ...
radiant roots, reluctantly brought:
beside the creamy chaos of the stars —


Composition: Fringe Lichen: Tilde & Mãe

As i have since i was a child in summer, found a rock with a fine example of life;

this time Flavopunctelia soredica, fringe lichen, with tilde-like edges;

to extend a sound where other life could hear,

in hopes of accomplishing nothing, offered punctuation to the lichen, to my mother who was very quiet at the time

so it would be heard & not heard in the heavenly sphere, at least, as the brain imagined it there, making absolute motion, in a harmless frame, as the granite has spoken since i was a child, in other words,

i said mãe

with 10 rows of 12 tildes & 2 rows of mãe, in Portuguese,
i recited the tildes by lifting a finger, recited the "mãe" lines,
tapping toward where she lives very quietly in days she creates ...


Composition: Under Cypresses, Near Big Sur

Before bronze winter, unable to get good sorrow through,
choosing a rock where a Xanthoparmelia shield had spread,
facing the full-of-plastic Pacific, eager to include crows,
waiting for one crow to disrupt the cantata of not-crow,
counting by thinking, as for decades, i've thought punctuation has features of skylight, tsk-ing,
(my brothers used to say tsk tsk, when we were naughty),
hoping this might lift the dread of being human, & early, relieved by dots in the air,
i repeated a composition 6 times with the crow & tried to breathe humanly, thus:

(for M.W.)


Of Monarchs Again, Especially the Stripes

— or, perhaps we could care less carefully now ...
that they fluttered in the forest, with midgold clinging to their going ... Their cadence our anxiety: became gleam, night vision, to rest as a speckled The days can sometimes an ochre glance.
give them what they need — that's pretty obvious (triangles of orange — a weight had been dispatched —)
we're visitors, & only briefly, at that,

— one more flutter from the spirit world, glittering time looks on, souls as seeds, ready to rise, & stay ...
as if color has chosen to live,
no matter what
(it both is &
isn't a metaphor —)

for KH


So, Bacteria Also Have Their Thunder

& cloud caps in the drought — microbes in my gut &
on the leg of the bobcat, microbes even on its photo —, buckles near grasses of perhaps not growing ...
no rain this week, no relief sounds ... in our grief here, to hear coastal cypress — beware —
so grown things rain:
between life & nonlife &
death: the whir under the dove's wing, to — rows of marigolds,

an end of earth where creatures go without supervision ... such sorrow i heard —
such sorrow they heard ... bacteria also have their thunder in the nightlight of the biome, coasting,
outside an arrogant noise they never made — breaks energy in sun's setting behind a band of thunder clouds: cracks & volunteers —


Angrily Standing Outside in the Wind

— kept losing self control
but how could one lose the self after reading so much literary theory?
The shorter "i" stood under the cork trees,
the taller "I" remained rather passive;
the brendas were angry at the greed, angry that the trees would die, had lost interest in the posturing of the privileged,

the gaps between can't & won't ...
Stood outside the gate of permissible sound & the wind came soughing
through the doubt debris
(soughing comes from swagh — to resound ...
echo actually comes from this also — )
we thought of old Hegel across the sea — the Weltgeist — & clouds

went by like the bones of a Kleenex ...
it's too late for countries but it's not too late for trees ...
& the wind kept soughing
with its sound sash, wind with its sound sash, increasing bold wind with its sound sash,
increasing bold —


[Untitled Day]

In the dream, they were doing better,
i could see that. He had bought a suit; they could laugh together (though not always at the same things);
& where they sat —
a glow (from the window ledge,

lined with small recent jars, in fringe-training —)
brought in the common day —
filled not with wisdom but with insights & their variants —;
when you send in your request you have to know what you are working with ...

i said to the dream, take this ordeal ... (what's good for the night is never a belief ... —) The room was the gold of five days in summer though the chairs were made of wood from the forest of grief —

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Extra Hidden Life, among the Days"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Brenda Hillman.
Excerpted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

I. THE FORESTS OF GRIEF & COLOR
On a Day, In the World
Whose Woods These Are We Think
All-night Crooked Moonrise over Mountain Pines
The Bride Tree Can't Be Read
Brief Walk at Salt Point Park
For the Lovers Abandoned in Sunlight
During a Suite by Gaspar Cassadó
Beneath a Dying Coast Live Oak
[& heard a humming, like the]
The Forests of Grief & Color
The Before Sleep Kind of Everything
Composition: Fringe Lichen: Tilde & Mãe
Composition: Under Cypresses, Near Big Sur
Of Monarchs Again, Especially the Stripes
So, Bacteria Also Have Their Thunder
Angrily Standing Outside in the Wind
[Untitled Day]
Species Prepare to Exist after Money
Extra Hidden Life, among the Days
Mountain Pond Landscape, in a Drought
As a Sentence Leaves Its Breath
Some Kinds of Forever Visit You
The Bride Tree Lives Three Times
In the Forest of Blue Aptitude
II. NEAR THE RIM OF THE IDEAL
A Short Rhyme for Amiri Baraka
A Summer Song from Old Berlin
Untitled & Translation to Portuguese
Curl of Hair in a Drawer
The Family Sells the Family Gun
Describing Tattoos to a Cop
Chicago Black Friday Protest Near Apple
Crypto-Animist Introvert Activism
To a Life Ended in Winter
Hearing La Bohème after the March
Near the Rim of the Ideal
III. METAPHOR & SIMILE
IV. TWO ELEGIES
The Rosewood Clauses
(An elegy for my father)
Her Presence Will Live beyond Progress
(An elegy for C.D. Wright)
V. TWO PARKS
A Poem for a National Forest
A Poem for a National Seashore
Acknowledgments & Notes

What People are Saying About This

Charles Altieri

“For Hillman there is an alternative model of sociality that stems from attending to the destructive and creative fire that simply burns through righteous ideas to concrete objects that elicit our caring. Sociality in [Hillman’s] poetry arises from her radical, eco-centric view. It is the result of being aware that what we love and what engages us in the world will be lost if we fail to find alternatives to what that world is becoming.”

Karen An-Hwei Lee

“Hillman’s devotion to social justice—her unwavering belief in poetry’s capacity to address root causes of our political strife—ultimately purifies our fallen world in the languages of elemental fire.”

Charles Aliteri

“For Hillman there is an alternative model of sociality that stems from attending to the destructive and creative fire that simply burns through righteous ideas to concrete objects that elicit our caring. Sociality in [Hillman’s] poetry arises from her radical, eco-centric view. It is the result of being aware that what we love and what engages us in the world will be lost if we fail to find alternatives to what that world is becoming.”

From the Publisher

"Hillman turns simple concepts into things far more revealing. The intimacy she conveys, the disappointment, the panic even, these are elements of magic I want to revisit."—Camille T. Dungy, author of Trophic Cascade

"For Hillman there is an alternative model of sociality that stems from attending to the destructive and creative fire that simply burns through righteous ideas to concrete objects that elicit our caring. Sociality in [Hillman's] poetry arises from her radical, eco-centric view. It is the result of being aware that what we love and what engages us in the world will be lost if we fail to find alternatives to what that world is becoming.""—Charles Altieri, Open Humanities Press

"Hillman's devotion to social justice—her unwavering belief in poetry's capacity to address root causes of our political strife—ultimately purifies our fallen world in the languages of elemental fire.""—Karen An-Hwei Lee, Iowa Review

"Hillman turns simple concepts into things far more revealing. The intimacy she conveys, the disappointment, the panic even, these are elements of magic I want to revisit."—Camille T. Dungy, author of Trophic Cascade

"Hillman's devotion to social justice—her unwavering belief in poetry's capacity to address root causes of our political strife—ultimately purifies our fallen world in the languages of elemental fire."—Karen An-Hwei Lee, Iowa Review

Camille T. Dungy

“Hillman turns simple concepts into things far more revealing. The intimacy she conveys, the disappointment, the panic even, these are elements of magic I want to revisit.”

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