Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Rilke

The Panther

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Rainer Maria Rilke


It may seem strange to begin a Plastic Forever blog post with a poem about a panther but it offers perfect insight into this day and this walk to Kehoe Beach.

In 1905 Rilke moved to Meudon, France to take a job as sculptor Auguste Rodin's secretary. When Rilke told Rodin that he was suffering writer's block, that he had not been writing lately, Rodin's advice was to go to the zoo (the Jardin des Plantes in Paris) and look at an animal until he truly saw it. Rilke began to study the caged animals displayed behind bars, observing the endless pacing and the confines of their captivity. He was not just looking he was seeing deeply into…



Heading on a road trip to the mid-West, Victoria Sloan Jordan, poet and film producer, wanted one last longing look at the Pacific before driving inland all the way to Kansas. Richard recovering from MOH'S surgery was unable to join us, but Victoria's old wonder-dog Rilke, blind and deaf, was ready for the terrain of new and exciting smells.

These days we spend so much time focused on our screens that the expanse of the ocean horizon is a welcome respite from the close-in view in our computers. Plus there is the great pleasure of using our eyes scanning, looking for the tiniest slips of plastic poking out from the sand. 


How great to spend the afternoon in the companionship of Victoria who has devoted years of her life observing the albatross on Midway Island and being on the team that brought the story of those magnificent birds to the big screen.


Our conversation was as wide as the horizon as we enjoyed the beach and beyond. We talked of poetry and plastic, watching for whales and the waves.



Imagine Tokitae (Lolita) an orca whale who has spent 47 years swimming round and round in a concrete pool in captivity at Seaquarium in Florida. Imagine her possible retirement being returned back to her pod in Puget Sound. We recently learned about the amazing work of the Whale Sanctuary Project and their efforts to establish a seaside sanctuary where whales can be safely relocated to an ocean environment as close as possible to their natural habitat.

At dinner with Richard we read The Panther aloud and marveled at Rilke's observational skills. Thanks to Rodin's sage advice, he overcame his writers block and became, as he described, “to be a real person among real things” and thus cure himself of what he wonderfully called his “breathing difficulties of the soul.”



At the end of a big day, who's a good dog?



1 comment:

  1. A blind and deaf dog, collecting smells on a desolate beach, held by the Earth and sheltered by the sky. What new mysteries and complexities are available to him? The four-legged Rilke on Kehoe beach reminds me of us humans, deprived of so many senses and views, but yet so attached to the ones available to us.

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