Diving and Gathering

 

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“Gold Field” Roni Horn, 1982

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.

Your prompt:

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.

4 thoughts on “Diving and Gathering

  1. It has been a long time since I have known silence,
    Silence sounds like an empty creaky house with two ghostly young kids playing soccer in the hall,
    Were the bouncing of the ball is slightly muffled by the dripping faucet in my kitchen,
    Or the struggling beat of my tormented heart,
    Silence sounds like the wind whispering sweet hopeless nothing’s from my windowsill,
    Were the reflection in the window only captures a sad regretful man,
    And a glimpse of what once was,
    Silence is the sound of the furnace igniting,
    Were howling gusts rattle the vents,
    And the paralyzing cry for help screeches out,
    I no longer fear the sound of silence,
    I no longer wish for pure silence,
    I know now it is inner peace that I need, not Silence.

    • seemareza

      I love this. “Silence is the sound of the furnace igniting.” The specific and the figurative in one line. Thank you.

  2. Michelle Van Court

    I am surrounded by a silence that sounds like
    the hush in the crowd right before the once proud
    fighter falls to ground not to rise again
    Finally defeated by hurt and weariness

    The stillness of the prey surrounded by death
    Knowing there is no escape and finally no more
    chase

    The calm of a dying man
    Knowing there is no more fight, no more pain
    But only the peace of knowing only better awaits

    The relief of a trapped criminal
    Finally able to stop running from his past, himself
    Allowed to face the bitter consequences of guilt

    I am surrounded by a silence that sounds like inner peace
    Peace from so many struggles, so much pain
    Peace from standing in the pouring down rain with thunder all around in the cold harsh night
    Washing away the pride, anger, fear, and guilt
    Leaving me only surrounded by the beautiful silence of peace

    • seemareza

      Thank you Michelle.

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