2019-07-31

The time of transition begins. The sense of summer yielding to the next thing. Certain rhythms carried in the body. Expectations. A predictable ache. 

I went away for a time and then I came back. 

The river running underground. Its dark current. 

I returned to a manuscript that now seems like it was written in another lifetime. In actuality, two years ago, maybe three. Thinking it now into the future, into its intended future. What will it become. 

It is only when I speak to other people that my own process, my own switching from one thing to another, seems like folly. When I hear reflected back, the juggling of multiple things. It is only then I think, wouldn’t it be better to focus on one thing for a while. Take one at a time. It is not as though I have not tried. Perhaps not hard enough. 

DREAM FRAGMENT: An examination of sorts. But I pass easily. 

I walked beneath the leafy trees. The air was hot and dense, but the shade provided relief. Brick paths, cobblestones, a stretch here and there of flat uninterrupted pavement. Orange lilies grow wild and leggy. Hydrangea in full, audacious bloom. These streets I know so well. Carried in the body all these years. 

I remember the poet reading translations. The way he stood at the podium, one leg extended behind the other, shifting his weight forward and back, animated by the poem’s music. But this was a long time ago. 

DREAM FRAGMENT: The empty stage, empty podium. Its small lamp aglow. Sound of laughter, applause drifting from a nearby room. I am walking toward the stage. The applause grows louder. As I ascend the stairs, the stage becomes the ocean. The sound of the audience only the murmur of waves. 

I want very much to spend a few days by the sea. One dedicated trip before the summer’s end. I spend time looking for places to stay, but predictably everywhere I want to go is booked. It feels insufficient to drive down for an afternoon. What I want is to pass whole days and nights by the shore. To watch night fall over the dark water, to feel the evening’s gradual chill. To feel the cool air warm as morning yields to afternoon. 

This is the last one. It was not what I set out to do, entirely. What I had wanted: a poem a day, for a week, maybe two. To see what might be added to a sheaf of poems that don’t yet speak to each other. A series of lines, fragments, to see what questions might emerge. 

Instead I found myself writing in prose, toward something about time, about recursion. I suppose it does not matter. 

I suppose I am writing around memory, around memorial. Fidelity, or its lack, to remembrance and its rituals — e.g., here is the photo you posted x years ago. Here is what you were doing on this day. Here is your own memory, re-remembered and re-presented.  

Brandon Shimoda, on the World Trade Center memorial: “People took — and continue to take — pride in the fact that many ethnicities were represented among the dead, as if the United States is only able to realize its democratic ambitions by being attacked. To memorialize, then, democracy, or democratic ambition, as a chimera that appears only in the emanations rising off the embers of death.”

Memorials, by definition, outlast the dead, but also, those who might remember the dead. To keep returning to the site of the injury, the site of rupture, its own kind of reenactment. The return re-creating the rupture, urging it to remain open.