Waiting tables, dyeing textiles, separating goats in heat
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Since I moved to Phoenicia, New York, the sky has become my main cultural influence. I can’t afford to go to the movies; I have no TV; I don’t like trees, or grass. So each morning I’m relieved to see the sky appear, with her curious, fresh ideas.
In Manhattan, where I formerly dwelt, only a partial sky exists. Man-made mountains delimit her expanse. Here, God-made mountains cut off the sky. I am grateful for these encumbrances. A total sky demands total attention.
The following is my Catskill sky journal. (All shapes referred to are clouds.)
1:08 P.M.: The sky is a uniform light blue — the blue of a lake, not of the sea — with, at the edges, a few smudgy Nike insignias.
4:18 P.M.: A faint image of a bunny turns into a pair of pliers.
5:49 P.M.: Three abstract angels swooping down.
9:31 A.M.: A pale, diffident sky. In the center I see a sheep, then Ezra Pound, then nothing.
6:02 P.M.: The sky has grown paler and paler all day. Now it is white as an egg. To the north, Goofy, the cartoon character, swaggers.
5:38 A.M.: A low, watchful, suspicious sky. I find myself moving through the house surreptitiously, as if the firmament were a cop. (Do skies remind me of cops because they both wear blue?)
8:49 A.M.: A sensitive, muted gray sky, reminiscent of Chopin’s Nocturnes and Don Cherry’s jazz solos.
2:00 P.M.: An exhaustive thunderstorm.
2:41 P.M.: The sky has cleared, and I see in the distance a demon from Ghostbusters wearing a catcher’s mask.
9:04 A.M.: The sky is joyous, as if it has just thought of something brilliant to say.
3:14 P.M.: A large elephantine shadow in the south, which appears to be defecating.
3:28 P.M.: A strong, alarming wind emerges from the elephantine shadow.
4:05 P.M.: A troubled sky, a sky that needs therapy.
7:38 A.M.: A bearded genie above Mount Tremper, with arms folded.
6:51 P.M.: A crowd of fat, laughing clowns.
2:15 P.M.: A bent drinking straw.
7:31 P.M.: A giant impression of lips on the sky, as if God is kissing us from above.
3:42 P.M.: High in the sky, almost directly overhead, a fissure resembling a vagina.
7:42 A.M.: An opaque expanse — a sky wearing a sky mask.
6:15 A.M.: The sky is white around the edges, as if the man painting it ran out of blue.
I love The Sun. Every issue is a treasure chest of true and authentic stories, interviews with exceptional people, and amazingly poignant, revealing photographs. Stories in The Sun, including those in Readers Write, may be on the sad and sometimes unpleasant side, but they always come off as genuine.
Why, then, would you choose to publish a piece of dreck like Sparrow’s “Catskill Sky Journal” [October 1999]? If Sparrow is such a poet, why doesn’t he invent his own images to describe a sky he supposedly loves, instead of relying on such corporate clichés as Nike insignias and demons from Ghostbusters? Must we be subjected to mindless product references even in The Sun? I feel betrayed. Now, this is offensive.