Ways to Hold

The body, de Beauvoir, observes, is an instrument for holding onto the world. Same for a body of work. In this light, it’s truly an odd (modern, western) impulse that insists on classifying literary works into camps of fiction and nonfiction. We are supposed to be used to this by now but try asking a painter or sculptor to make the same distinction. Anything we make––or are, for that matter, is always an alchemy of observation, response, and dream.

Why This News

On regional announcements.

Some mornings when I have a strong hunch about being not up to reading the dispatches of certain outlets of official News, I go to Craigslist because I want to be reminded that someone, somewhere, is finding a lost tabby, taking her in, and taking time with the announcement, she is here, and that someone else only wants to hear of your ghost story, your art, your interest in being featured in an indie film, your interest in time spent over coffee, talking questions and making use of some ideas you never knew where to put, finding what one calls other creative spirits and a way to be united toward a sea change and to return––this time––the tabby, the golden, the rabbit, the parrot. 

To be clear, they stress no offers, list their numbers in the ads, and being wary, write out the last four. Please call, they say, and it must be comfort I find in this chorus of suspended invocations, awaiting some response––as though nothing has yet happened to sever the heartbeat, hoping, as though what seems to be for the time being, utterly––

may only have strayed, gone dormant or been temporarily misplaced. That it waits somewhere, calling here and please call.

Fly Notes

From a wall in a room with cosmologists.

It was an enviable position, according to some. To be what I was, a fly on the walls in which they met. I was hoping to get out, but made the best of my lot, listening. If I did escape, I was hoping to at least be able to share an uncommon view of the cosmos, but my findings were inconclusive. 

Surely you must have heard something.

Well. They know it’s big.

There’s a start. 

When it comes to origins, they can speculate as to when, but have no idea what, except hot. In recent decades, they have at least become aware that they are only seeing what’s observable to them. One thing that’s really got some of them worked up is about how the further away a galaxy is, the faster it is moving. Away. From what they can see. 

Hmm, and they don’t find this discouraging?

Nope. They are very persistent. It’s adorable, really. And they have all these little naming games and such and can’t help characterizing all the forces with various personalities. Like, they have this one saying they love to repeat. Let me see if I can get it. It goes: Space meeting Matter says, “Move like this!” and Matter, meeting Space, says, “No, curve!”

So now what are they onto?

Mostly a sense that they are missing something. That it’s right there, on the horizon.

In the part that’s moving away fast, or the slower part?

I don’t know. That’s when they finally opened a window. 

***

Inspired by this article. And by the work of  Georgi Gospodinov, which often features sentient flies.

Correction

By the resident oracle.

Some days it looks like a litany of minor losses––keys, money, what passed for discipline; traffic and burnt popcorn, and the pain at the temples only calls to mind other pains, and the only words that come when you call are all wrong, and too late, dressed for some other occasion, unknown. 

And then comes the cat, unbidden, winding her eloquent tail across your face and back again like a wiper blade in the rain, to remind you, with the calm focus that can only be acquired by one who has just risen from the day’s tenth nap, that you are once again missing the joke.

Working With Silence

With Jorie Graham.

Recognize this astonishment, this awe, this resistance to the hurry of speech. Its pressure signals the weight of what language battles. Here is the rupture, the interrupter; partner; opponent; interrogator; monument. Watch it.

To meet it on its own terms is to welcome some erosion. Each confrontation will put an end to the original witness, the one who meant to do the looking, and wrest from her womb a new creature, sharply aware of being watched.

When the word fists stop swinging, held behind the back, and the shouting mouth surrenders to its hold, what emerges? Here are the boundaries between flesh and time, sealed and open, the words we speak and those unspeaking us.

***

The above are notes while reading Jorie Graham’s essay “Some Notes on Silence” in By Herself: Women Reclaim Poetry (2000), edited by Molly McQuade. The italicized phrases are Graham’s.

Ends Meeting

Notes from an underground.

The border of a wound is sewn to the opposite border until the gap between them recovers its missing substance, the dormant body waiting underground as others come and go, tending. 

They sing as they come and go, tending. They check the dressings, the heart’s drum. They find a song. They avoid demands for answers to the old questions. They are too busy with slow singing. The dormant body has new questions. When it comes, the old ones will no longer matter. They call them forth, the body and its questions. 

What happens in this shelter is mostly waiting and song. The dormant bodies will not come until they are called. They will not approach the old borders with their new questions until they have swelled beyond the lines that held them, and when this happens, they will sing a response.

Bonus Post: Inaugural Video

Notes for travelers in uncertain times.

Hi friends. I am trying a new thing. Often as I do these daily posts, something emerges that tells me it is part of another thing. When this one came up, I decided it was “The Unknowing Project.” Here’s an early iteration. As 2023 unfolds, I intend to do a few more. With love, Stacey.

Storm Photo by Anandu Vinod on Unsplash/ Score: “Alice in Winter”by Azure Instrumental via Soundstripe.

What the Poem Taught

How not to lose the life of life.

It is autumn, she said. And we are going to die. And we have all this choosing to do, with great stakes. And yet, simultaneously: this beloved, ill; this new child, this sudden bird, this love. How often we keep our thinking separate from what we know. For a simple reason: simultaneous submersion within all sensibilities is unbearable.

So, how to know anything? How to keep the life of life in life? Try not knowing. Try reading below the threshold of interpretation. Try burying the head, leaving only the ear. It is possible to transcend personality and arrive. At a shared physical understanding. These songs were always here to pull us into them and we.

***

The italicized phrase comes from Jorie Graham, whose work inspires this piece.

Every Lifted Voice

Why the singing.

Now a manifesto, now jazz, now a love lyric; through these voiceprints of language now the witness takes a stand. Another stirs the mischief of the multitudes within each vibrating body of this vast and trembling We.

The point? Only this. Create a landscape wide enough to hold the simultaneous becoming dance of each and all, from the last beginning to the next. Any tent will tear against the strain.

But what do you need? Only to feel tended to and left well enough alone. You might try taking scissors to these pages, and then make a world to hold.

To hold us? That too.

What are you doing? This art is simply a protest. Against the dying off.

***

“Voiceprints of language” is a phrase June Jordan once used to describe poetry.