I’m having vision problems, in the least poetic sense. But, also in the poem way, since I don’t really have the words for tonight. I do know that it is time for honesty in art, and what I have to write about tonight is a sorrowful happening from earlier this week. I’m going to have to write my way into it, though. My physical vision problems involve two pairs of broken glasses and eyes that are swollen, I think from my daughters coughing directly into my face for the last five days. Since I am nearly blind, my glasses are expensive to replace, so I have to rely on a wonky pair that are missing an earpiece. Vision askew, in the most literal way.
There were many “not yet poems” from today. For example, “Oh good. / you found your toy / that lights up and makes noise. / thanks Grandma.” And from an encounter at work: “Your parents bought you three hundred dollar ski goggles. / What did they think you would see through those? / The future?”. Not poems. Yet.
Kiev is burning. That will certainly be a poem soon, but not tonight.
Tonight I need to address the thing that has been pushing weightily on these shoulders since Saturday, when I learned of the suicide attempt of a student at our school. I work with at-risk youth who live with us, and they carry their sorrows everywhere, and sometimes those sorrows grow too heavy. Thankfully, what an inadequate word, our dear one was not successful. I don’t even know if I am allowed, technically, to write about this, but since I’m not naming names, I figure art is an acceptable way to deal with the pain of such near flight.
Suicide is certainly the topic of poets. So many have decided to put down their pens and burdens. One of the poems about it that speaks to me is “He Posits Certain Mysteries”, by Thomas Lynch. Another, which may not entirely be about suicide, but fits with this contemplation of a certain fall, is Denise Levertov’s again, “Decipherings”, which I can’t find online and I’m not about type out. The first stanza reads “When I lose my center / of gravity / I can’t fly. / levitation’s a stone / cast straight as a lark / to fall plumb / and rebound.”
As much as we all tried to reach this student, we didn’t know how to help. We are all hurting, and feel like bending to our knees and praying that the ground become clouds when a young angel decides to fall. This is my attempt to deal.
Daring the Sky
“It gets better” is not a message you can hear over the drums signaling war. How lame of us to offer it as our selfish refuge. It is time to stop pretending that adults own sorrow and can teach from it.
It is all coming down, beckoning a semblance life. How long have been weighted by undeserved terrors, while beckoned by the dead ground? And who should say you’re not to leave behind the sheath that is kin to blame?
Is it selfish to say, stay here so you can give us your art and smile? Yes. But we scream it to you in your absence. Stay. Stay.
What is the difference between chained and unchained? All that is left is gnawed roots and blind fingers, slipping along the rooftop. Daring the sky, and beckoning a denying twist, drawn to a rest that sustains, and aching for the cold that sustains, taking breath to your back wings,
you stepped gracefully into the near spring.
Were you born plunging bound? Did you always seek the core’s pull?
No. You were once you’re mother’s five-fingered certainty, and the relief breath at your entering to this world,
so unsuited and welcome,
was always her first vision of you.
That was painful. I’m crying now. I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone, but that is okay. I will send it to our student in the hospital, and it probably won’t make sense there either. But I think a principle function of art is to find meaning where there is no meaning, and the beauty is in the attempt. So….again…sorry if I’ve bummed you out. Tomorrow I’ll make you puke unicorns, I promise. Happy Tuesday, poemies. Love you, whoever you are. Please stay. Love, Anna