At the clothesline, you watched and remembered loving her in the great storm. You worried she would run off with a sailor. And you saw the shadow of a man but not the man, how it mocked you.
You loved the crazies, wanted to hear them. You were the buddy to the toughest guy in every class––protection, maybe, you laughed. The things we do.
You pulled a gun on the man who beat your mother, joined a gang called something like The Zoo Club. It’s funny how the gangs of old always sound quaint. Your mother was recovering, your grandmother was cooking, and your grandfather was silent. You invented.
The first poem you read was, as you put it, stupid. You fell in love. You met poetry in bars, on street corners and in back alleys. Suddenly ravenous, you could not get enough. It was coming out my ears, you said, of your reading.
The hardest work, you said, after decades in love, is creating the situation, the new reality. Once that was handled, you had something to work within. You loved the surprise of a laugh when you meant to be crying.
It’s a tragic story, you wrote, but that’s what’s so funny.
I spent the early morning with poetry and interviews by (and with) James Tate, and I am glad I did. Italicized phrases are Tate’s.
First lessons in suspension.
We hardly knew it––or ourselves––when we flooded the spaces we entered with memory so completely that to move was to be removed from our weight in invented immersion. What carried us was luminous and dense and had no word we knew. If someone were to ask us what it was, we would say Nothing, but no such questions came, because when we removed ourselves from our weight, we became no one.
Which is more common, sense or the mysteries around it?
Not everyone is sold on the idea that plants have any, which makes it difficult to explain how trees harmonize, not to mention what mushrooms are doing without it. It’s generally accepted as a feature of humans, hence so many references to basic sensibilities, to sensible and senseless behaviors, and comparisons on varying levels of sensitivities. There’s plenty to be studied on an anatomical level––communications between organs, organisms, within and across regions, species, and time––most of which serves to reinforce a foundational understanding, however paradoxical, about the layers of mystery we’re dealing with.
These are challenging regions to chart: the matter of spirit, realities of imagination, bodies of mind, to say nothing of the minds of bodies. Which of these oversees sense, and which is to blame when it goes missing? And when we refer to that which is presumed common, is it one of these, or that which evades such reduction? There is reason to believe that these questions will linger as we continue to explore unmapped spatial, spiritual, and imaginative terrains. No sooner do we begin to chart a territory when another opens.
I suppose if there were fewer unknowns it might be easier to treat senselessness, to say as with a child’s skinned knee, show me where it is, to clean and bandage the wound, and say gently, there we go. All better! Which raises two questions: can a creature adapted to mystery survive when plucked from its depths? And, when this perception becomes the coin of the realm, what is lost?
A tribute to original wonders.
Mine were a pair, and they were light: a couple of living spheres. I gave them names, told my mother. They had genders; I don’t know if I assigned these, or they came with. K. was amber and a boy. P., magenta, was a girl. They had the same shape, the same transparency.
They seemed older; they came from the same place. I never knew its name. I guess I was the third wheel, but they were accommodating on their visits, and when they left me I went on with other things, same as I had in their presence, but with less conversation.
Later, I thought maybe it was a mistake to tell my mother, because once I heard her telling someone else, as mothers do. She said their names and called them imaginary.
I knew the word, a dividing line between what could and would not be. I was four, and they never returned. I accepted the fault as my own. Later, I read that a human is the only creature that doesn’t know what it is, and by then the words had weight. I also read that a friend will return you to yourself, and I think that before these first friends were gone, I knew what I was.
What would I call the time that began with their leaving?
I would not name it. I knew it was mine. This was my first lesson in distance.
What happened when the light changed.
The ants were marching one by two, hurrah, and from a chrysalis came particles of light. The old light waved from the shores we had left, and there was no going back. Clocks melted in these new sands at our tentative feet and soon after, the bodies on canvas began to separate from themselves and from any of the forms we thought we knew. It became possible to be neither in or out of being, but both at once, and above it as with dreams. The ants were going somewhere but here was another unknown among the unseen worlds, now in catch of our breaths.