Overwhelming Beauty

img_1913I’m reading this amazing, beautiful, life-sucking book called Abandon Me by Melissa Febos–I mentioned it last week. I have a serious list of Books To Read and this was not next,but it’s quickly become the front runner. It’s so stunning, everything else has fallen to the side. Febos writes, in a chapter about hickeys (tell me you don’t want to read a book that has a chapter about hickeys in it):

Tenderness toward the object of our desire becomes an expression of love partly, I think, because it so defies the nature of want, whose instinct is less often to cuddle than to crush. My want is more gnash than kiss, more eat than embrace…Lust is an urge to consume and perhaps there is no true expression of it that does not imply destruction. I can’t say. But even my tenderness for kittens includes an impulse to put them in my mouth.

I’ve been turning over some version of this in my mind lately–the aggression that love or beauty brings. I’ve been thinking of it in terms of my overwhelmed senses at the sight of natural beauty, and equally my sweet children. The pull towards possession or some kind of permanence. But there is no permanence. There is no possibility of possession with wild things.

This post on longing from three years ago is kind of related, but it’s more polite, more cerebral than what I want to get at here. I’ve been working on a cycle of visceral poems lately–bloody poems with teeth bared. I am writing about the physical experience of beauty, the thirst that opens in us, the desire to meld, become less ourselves and more the object that has sliced through the skin of reality in this way. The feeling can be overwhelming, leave us feeling out of control of ourselves, recognizing the disobedience of our bodies, the wildness in our hindbrains awakened. But there’s something insanely heady and powerful about it too, especially when I’m choosing to open myself to it. I look out at all these lush bright green trees, the sweet cheek of my sleeping boy, and think yes, this belongs to me, and I belong to it. It’s all a little dangerous.

“This poem is want…” was published in the offing last year, and your prompt is to take that title and write your own poem with these sensory experiences of want–in nature and in love.

This poem is want —

And a song to write to! My friend Karl (hi Karl!!!!) sent me this a few weeks ago (it’s from 1996 but we just discovered it). I’ve been obsessed with it. It’s perfect for this prompt.


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