Friday, March 14, 2014

Resilience: Part 1

Lucky in the End
It is just as the bamboos
which are suppressed by snow
begin to stand up again reviving 
in the spring season.

One who has drawn this lot will
enjoy long happiness, if he 
overcomes the difficulty he may
meet with.

Resilience has been in my thoughts a great deal recently. It was a message that Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary emphasized when she brought us together for the agency  retreat in Florida back in February. 

Then this fell out of my Talismania notebook. 

I've written about this message previously, almost four years ago--before my first book was published. The time I received this paper oracle was one of the happiest, least difficult passages in my life. 

There have been more difficult times. The Talismania notebook documents one of them, a span of several years (about 2001 to 2005). It was a time when I felt flayed, every nerve was exposed. My relationship with the physical world was difficult. My relationship with my own imagination was even worse. 

Reading those entries, I don't think they reveal my desperation. There are diagrams for preventing frost heave in foundations, process notes for several paintings I made and have since destroyed, my theories of indexing. Or maybe they do: how desperate does a person have to be to dwell upon frost heave at the foundation of imaginary houses? 

Most of the book, though, documents my troubled relationship with language. 

This is on the first page...

If you eat a fish
and you lift out the bone
in one delicate comb,
that's how it is to be a poet:

completely exposed,

but for the stray spine
found in the mouth
and rolled out by the tongue,
a monstrous discovery 
in the meat.

* * *

The stray bone
stops the talking
and then the word come

I think we should all agree that the above is an embarrassment to me. Of course it is: I'm completely exposed in those words. 
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