I am deep in some poems, though not as deep as I’d like to be (or rather, I have to come up for air and work and coffee and friendship and such). I’m reading and rereading Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich and I looked at this amazing piece of artwork (above) up close at Glenstone Museum (go see it & also order this book) and then kept thinking of it. It’s a sheet of gold, set on the ground with a single curl. You can’t see it in a photograph in any complete way, but the gold reflecting back on itself is like honey or sunlight concentrated looking at this, you can sort of see why the pursuit of gold has made so many people go mad. It gave me some feeling I can’t name.
I started to organize the books scattered on the surfaces of my living room which means I now have 10 stacks instead of 4 and blah blah blah why even bother? Oh, because the people here don’t always want to have to find space for their plates in a forest of stacks. Fancy, fancy, fancy silver spoon kids, man.
Tuesday, this cool thing is happening in town. The Lannan Center brings awesome poets out for a free seminar and reading, and Tarfia Faizullah and Jamaal May are going to expand everything in our minds. I’m really excited to be going with one of my favorite people to poetry with, and you should come too. Listening to artists discuss their process and read their work is as close to church as I ever get, and I need church right now.
This is the opening poem from Diving:
Trying to talk with a man
By Adrienne Rich
Out in this desert we are testing bombs,
that’s why we came here.
Sometimes I feel an underground river
forcing its way between deformed cliffs
an acute angle of understanding
moving itself like a locus of the sun
into this condemned scenery.
What we’ve had to give up to get here –
whole LP collections, films we starred in
playing in the neighborhoods, bakery windows
full of dry, chocolate-filled Jewish cookies,
the language of love-letters, of suicide notes,
afternoons on the riverbank
pretending to be children
Coming out to this desert
we meant to change the face of
driving among dull green succulents
walking at noon in the ghost town
surrounded by a silence
that sounds like the silence of the place
except that it came with us
and is familiar
and everything we were saying until now
was an effort to blot it out –
coming out here we are up against it
Out here I feel more helpless
with you than without you
You mention the danger
and list the equipment
we talk of people caring for each other
in emergencies – laceration, thirst –
but you look at me like an emergency
Your dry heat feels like power
your eyes are stars of a different magnitude
they reflect lights that spell out: EXIT
when you get up and pace the floor
talking of the danger
as if it were not ourselves
as if we were testing anything else.
1. Hit play on this song and listen to the whole thing with your eyes closed, laying down or stretching or whatever makes you listen with your whole body.
2. Then turn it off and start with this phrase:
“…surrounded by a silence that sounds like…”
Who knows what will happen after that? I sure don’t. Go figure it out.