There is an archipelago risingOut of the green waters that, rippling And swaying, are the oak tree’s shadow In the afternoon wood. A shoal of small islands Lying sheltered, close off-shore to leeward Of the one largest whose great coast looms there White in the shifting dimness like Chalk downs seen from far out through the dawn Mist, or the clouded moon full-swollen: The old sow asleep with her litter. When The wind blows there is no white water Spills seetheing in over the outer reefs, though the sound Of the sea’s edge plays all about there,But only from the tree-top the leaves’ long sighing In the waving boughs lends to the silent Rocking shadow the rustling water-words That slide through the shallows of that island sleep; And no tide-race pulls and rips in the dark Narrows breathing between them, but so gently Does the eddying darkness slip and brush In all their harbours, flooding and slumbering Deep in their valleys, and over their Dim hills drifting without splash or sound But itself altering to all their contours,That if one stood and watched one could not tell Whether indeed they were honest islands,Firm above the sea’s surface, or a mirage, Or a range sunk long ago whose white ghost Only now had risen there through the deluding Waters of afternoon. She is known, waking
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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