*The world comes into the poem.
The poem comes into the world.
Reciprocity — it all comes down
As with lovers:
When it’s right you can’t say
[[Who]] is kissing [[whom]].
– Gregory Orr*
Who are you?
[[Dream.->do you love me?]]
It is the beginning of the world.
[[do you love me?]]
My earliest memory is of lying in a wide room with a cathedral ceiling.
It was my parents' room. There was a bed with a headboard made of dark wood, a bedside table, and a long dresser with a mirror - humbly furnished, no frills. Except for the curtains - the curtains were a dusty pink color and translucent, with ruffles all around its edge. When the sun shone through them, the room filled with soft, [[tinted light]].
Everything was soft. I could feel the strength of my mother's arms through the buffer of blankets against my body. There was a [[flimsy baby's straw hat]] and an instant film camera on top of the dresser; someone else familiar moved outside my vision, talking in a voice that soothed. [[My grandmother]].
The closest I can get, now, is to close my eyes in the late afternoon. The light underneath my eyelids is warm like milk, [[pink as blushing skin]].
with the waves rising and falling
an exhalation – a rush of tiny bubbles upwards, frenzied,
swirling in the current
i am warm
for a moment and then the cool blue
my smooth underside
the belly of the world
i could feel all possible forms
reaching outward and turning forever like –
stars? no, bubbles, in the half-dark shining,
a long [[voice]] calls from far away
a kind of -
subtle secret soft
- collective ecstacy?
and somewhere in the distance there is a [[light]]
I rub my eyes.
The fire is still going strong, but pales against the light of the moon. It's so bright it nearly blots out the stars. Tonight, the black sea presses into the shore as though ravenous.
It can be the ravenous, I the ravaged. It's as though I've pushed past the borders of starvation, and now can't bring myself even to hunger. The bones feel thin in my arms.
I must look ridiculous, I think. Even if a ship came by and saw the wreck, they would not see me - only a gawky, hollow-eyed bird on the sand beside a fire. No matter. It's been a long time, and besides, maybe no one will find the island for years, surrounded as it is all around by miles of sea in a world impossibly large.
I blink. My eyes are so dry they feel gritty, like parts of me are turning to sand. The fire crackles and the sparks sear through the dark.
After it dies, when I shed my skin to become even more formless - a skeletal pile - I invite the birds. Take my bones far away; make homes in my ribcage.
All the rest belongs to the sea. Over the past few days, I'd started to respect the waves and their perpetual hunger. I hope, flame extinguished, the tide swells and pulls me down to the mollusks.
As resigned as I am, I do still want to live. So let me shape-shift.
Hey, there's the superpower of humanity! We all become shape-shifters at the end.
Let my formlessness re-form into the squid, the jellyfish, the seagrass -
let me have immortality in the spiral shell of a mollusk.
Even now, the quality of that light is the only way I can define nostalgia.
What was it for? I don't think I ever wore it, but we had it around for years - long after I had outgrown it once and for all.
It was less yellow than grey. There was a red heart pinned to one side. Why do I remember only the hat and the camera? Why not anything else along the dresser? I know there were vague shapes, other forms, but they are lost to me.
At least in my memory, it is. I remember she and my mother speaking to one another in low voices, soft laughter.
But the more time passes, the less sure I am. Perhaps it was simply someone else; perhaps she was never there. If I had seen her, if those frequencies of light had found my eyes, I might be more sure, just like I can be sure of the hat and the camera.
Or maybe not even that much. Like pulling a loose thread, other things begin to unravel if I'm wrong. What was actually there? The cathedral ceiling, the bed? Was I held by my mother, in that room, or did I simply collage the memories fragmented through time?
How much have I dreamt?
the voice only exists because of me.
that is -
nothing calls out into nothingness;
nothing reaches if there is
nothing beyond to hold.
but somewhere the voice [[sees->images]] bubbles that are not theirs
He laughed and looked down, but I had already seen the color that started to fill his cheeks. His hands curled around one another. Beautiful hands - the long fingers of a pianist.
"I didn't mean to embarrass you."
He shook his head. "No - no. It means a lot to hear that from you. And now, of all times, especially. I was afraid I was stagnating."
"I can understand that. Well... just know that I mean it."
He smiled at me, looked at his watch. "I suppose I should head inside. The gate will close soon and then I'll *really* be in trouble."
A tight hug. "Thanks for seeing me off."
I watched him turn away, shoulders sloping with the weight of his bags.
I [[called his name->voice]].
I [[stared hard, willing myself to never forget->images]].
What helps the most sometimes in writing music is an image. It's a strange idea, I guess, that creating auditory art requires a sense of the visual.
This 'sense of the visual' is made up maybe not so much of light hitting one's [[retinas->light]] as of feeling, memory, thought. These have a certain, albeit intangible, form, and pool inside you like smoke. At least that's what I've always felt.
I put my hands on the keys and stared at them. A lover had commented on them once, said that they looked like piano-playing hands. Of course, that assessment is actually pretty complex. What makes them 'piano-playing hands'? Long fingers, dexterity, sure, alright – but none of those things mean anything in and of themselves. In other words, her conclusion isn't one that can be made from sight alone.
Now, that isn't the most germane thing in the world for me to be analyzing. But I'm trying little by little to understand. When my lover talked about her feelings, she said that my hands were the place where she began to love me. Here I'm thinking: how can that make sense? My hands as a place, my hands as the soil for her emotions?...
And in this context it makes slightly more sense. It's a whole bunch of things interacting together. I suppose her memories of me, her caring... these associations and more all came to intersect at the image of my hands pressing the keys of a piano. And if I think hard enough I can even see it in my own mind: one night when I, losing track of time, practiced through the half-dark, only stopping when I noticed her standing in the doorway, observing quietly...
Intertwined with her own thoughts and memories, they began to spiral outwards. Eventually, they became other compositions, worlds of their own, and took on a [[new life]].
we will grasp one another by the hand tightly and wind
our way through quiet alleys
we push against,
in every sharp inhalation,
the combined weight of our bodies,
breath strained with the effort of
feeling inside caverns
softly lit with pink light
we the heart
we the heartbeat
that sows the seed
and it will grow, there, in that room
swathed in spring
and fed by our appetite
an open mouth, aching –
*"And the LORD God formed man of the [[dust]] of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a [[living soul->a memory]]."
dust to dust.
[[so it goes]]
[[i dissolve into earth]]
[[the sea gathers me]]
[[and the warmth of my body never fades]]
in other words, i had foreseen absolutely everything.
– and i will have created even that which has created me
(but differently than before;
since i had form
the form of the world was also changed, in the sense that now it included the form of the world as it had been without my body plus the form of my body.)
i return to the soil only by re-turning –
following a familiar trajectory of motion
– that curves outwards towards eternity.
in other words i left my traces.
and, ah – in a few million, million years, even
this silty, dust-light body's weight
is enough to be the difference between stillness and shift.
as it is, i, trembling, lurch forward
in a collision of gravelly earth.
and in another hundred, hundred years –
look how far i've come, adorned with flowers.
– gathers me into its arms, yes, going deep and deeper still
even through the vents of hot water coming out
of cracks in the seafloor.
i rush through, battered all about,
forcing myself through the heat,
in my inept vision an image of
a white froth of bubbles, surging angrily
around me, and into me,
impatient to emerge from its
birthplace, and beyond them –
my body is numb from its assault and has no feeling.
even when i reach out my arms there is only stillness,
not even the resistance to density
that would tell me i still had any.
for some immeasurable time
i existed in that void,
with nothing at all to see myself with.
but then, from that vast emptiness, i felt it there –
a bubble -
and though i had no way of seeing it, its tenuous presence gave me something with which i could form myself.
we did not find each other easily
in that vaccuum of space,
but we had only the other to revolve around
so we revolved on and on in our dance
and each time we recognized more of our own
until one day we felt so large there was hardly any more room to spin in
and then, whirling in place,
we [[held each other->THE UNIVERSE]]
– it disperses heavenward, carrying the weight of water, becoming vapor.
in the sky my body grows dense.
it is an empty space, the ether;
my movements fill with tension.
so in my behemoth form i let the current carry me to where it may.
and on that current it comes to me –
euphoric, sweet voice,
a vision of creation
something that would defend this individual presence of mine from the indiscriminate instability of all the rest –
i felt something within shift.
i took my cramped body and i [[exhaled->a memory]].
<center> and the universe takes its first infinitisimal breath–
We are all running running running down the hill and Rory is yelling because it's so fast! I almost think I'm going to fall but I don't because I keep catching myself. But my legs are all tingly from going *thump* over and over on the ground.
It was really fun. Jamie is picking the little daisies now. He says do you know how to make a daisy chain crown? My mom taught me how to and it's really easy. I can show you. I say okay. All of us start picking daisies and I sit down in the grass that's really soft, and I pet it with both hands sometimes pretending like it's a big dog.
Someone else says hey it's raining! so I look up and there's a *big* cloud in the sky even though it's sunny. I say that's weird. A big raindrop falls on my face and then a lot of raindrops and it's raining really hard. We're getting all wet! Rory says we have to protect the daisies! and Jamie says no let's pretend we can control the rain and the crowns give us magic powers to control it.
I say yeah! and Westly says can I be the wizard who wants to steal the crowns? Rory says yeah, and maybe you want the crowns so you can flood the entire world!
Westly yells and starts to run after us so we all run away! I can run really fast and I run up the hill and rain is getting in my eyes, but I'm making it rain really hard so the wizard can't get to us.
[[We're all screaming and laughing and it's really fun->THE UNIVERSE]].
– there it is, the sound
of worlds grazing the
edges of other
[[and out of our present formlessness we would be transformed into one of the infinite possible forms->so it goes]].
[[i felt that what opened up in that space did not belong to us but to others->light]].
[[i've been in love for five hundred million years->new life]].