Thursday, August 2, 2012

a moment in our conversation

the leaves beside the trail that cupped the afternoon like water

we worked hard to shield them from meaning

and they lifted the light toward evening for no reason


  1. i am very excited about these three separate lines, as though the second line is the wall, the first line is mankind and our inability to notassign meaning, and the last line the true world. a year ago you brought basho (?) to me, how admirable! / to see lightning, and not / think life is fleeting

    trying to live a life of truth is waking every morning into the work. ironically it is the job of the poet to do the work on both sides of the wall, to pay attention and assign words to raise up the truth that exists eternally on the other side of the wall. in this way i wonder if language then is mortality and that which lives on the other side of the wall immortal? and perhaps this speaks to why language can never truly say the unnameable.

    your image is tender and real. what does this mean? it means it exists every day in infinite variation at a certain time - always pivoting(oh, transient light!) - without needing us.


  2. Why do we shield things, ourselves,and life?

    nice poem James

  3. erin: this paradox at the core of language seems inescapable (unless one can escape it by lapsing into silence -- i think sometimes this is where i am headed ...). we must speak. language is an instrument of knowledge -- only through labeling things can i know them, only through words (or images, which bring the same paradox into play) can i offer you what i have seen. and yet the word always kills the thing, draws a line around it, isolates it from the weave of relationships with the rest of the world. this is, i believe, one meaning of the eden myth: knowledge is separation. (and when paul tillich writes, sin is separation, i think he is playing on the slippery rim of the same abyss.) if death is the ultimate isolation of the ego from the things of the world, then isn't language, in its unavoidable enacting of separation, always already a presentiment of death?

    and yet we live in words, do we not? how is this? would not silence also be death?

  4. liz: i think most of our shielding -- of ourselves, of things, of others -- comes from a fear of death. or perhaps it s a fear of life, which amounts to the same thing -- to be alive is to be going to die ... once you start thinking of it, an overwhelming portion of social and economic life, of media and technology, is devoted to this denial ....

  5. Oh if only there could something be done 'without a reason'. Very moving lines indeed.

  6. Robert: in the end, perhaps things are because they simply are ... we invent the reasons to cover our eyes at the edge of the abyss ...