The unread and read-but-unsavored books on my shelves overwhelm me with choices. Matthea Harvey, I read for the line-breaks. Marianne Moore for the imagery. Robert Hass, to follow the evolution of a single poem through publications.
I haven’t counted, but I fear books about poetry may outnumber books of poetry, if one is looking strictly at a genre distinction.
I am still trying to remember who it was I loaned George Brant’s Grounded to. I remember being disappointed it was written by a man. So was Nuts. I don’t think I ever actually owned a copy of that play.
Last year, for several months, I actually read for joy. Then I tried to twist it into something useful. That will kill anything that needs to breathe. My relationship with poetry has been one of continual deaths and resurrections. There is no good reason for that now.
I walked Leonard this evening and took a photo of a small tree stump. The bark is pulling from the wood, and there is a thin, nearly texture-less layer of moss covering the wound. I wrote Afterlife on the Instagram note. (No hashtag. I am trying to wean myself from all of that.)
Scanning the bookshelves for an entry point, I see Albert Goldbarth’s 2015 collection Selfish. Seems like a good place to begin. With the teacher who simultaneously drew me in and pushed me away from poetry. The poet who had a way with poetry, and a way with unwritten words. Looking back I suppose I could find new perspectives from which to view that semester. Maybe knowing that is enough not to have to.
This evening I heard the phrase fluid perception in connection with memory.
Auden said, “Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.” I have so many mixed feelings. Mixed perspectives.
I flip through the book to see if I had even gotten to it whenever I bought it. No.
But my eye lands on a word in a poem: Afterlife.
“[…] I’ve witnessed that come-hither prestidigitorial trick / ten thousand times. An afterlife – is there an afterlife […]”
The title of the poem is “The Disappearance of the Nature Poem into the Nature Poem”. So, yes. This seems a good place to begin.
Libraries are magical places – places for divination. Even when they are in your own home, assembled over decades out of duty and obligation – out of aspirations that are still only aspirations.
The timer has chimed three times to say it’s time to move on. I will pour a glass of wine and take Selfish downstairs. Leonard will stretch out with his back pressed against my hip and leg, and he’ll dream.
I’ve always admired Goldbarth’s poetry.
I’ll try to find the nature poem in the nature poem. But first I have to look up prestidigitorial.
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I miss my personal library assembled in my study which I have gladly given over to my son until he finds a better place. But I still miss it. And feel divorced from a part of myself.
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