This is going to be a quiet little poem tonight, I can feel it. I’ve been reading The Door, a poetry collection from Margret Atwood, who is one of my favorite novelists and whose poetry is also, of course, pretty damn good. Stunning moments, in fact. You should read it. The book has a CD in it with her reading some of them, but I can’t make myself listen to it. Maybe I just want to know the poems for myself before I hear how she makes them sound? I don’t really know. Should I just do it? Just listen? Right now? I’m going to.
Okay, so it’s taking a long time to import these. So, while I wait, today I’ve been thinking a lot about secrecy. I read this:
by Margaret Atwood
Secrecy flows through you,
a different kind of blood.
It’s as if you’ve eaten it
like a bad candy,
taken it into your mouth,
let it melt sweetly on your tongue,
then allowed it to slide down your throat
like the reverse of uttering,
a word dissolved
into its glottals and sibilants,
a slow intake of breath —
And now it’s in you, secrecy.
Ancient and vicious, luscious
as dark velvet.
It blooms in you,
a poppy made of ink.
You can think of nothing else.
Once you have it, you want more.
What power it gives you!
Power of knowing without being known,
power of the stone door,
power of the iron veil,
power of the crushed fingers,
power of the drowned bones
crying out from the bottom of the well.
– – – –
It gets complicated, secrecy. I like the way she paints it as a seduction at first, but then it snakes along toward destruction by the end. “The power of knowing without being known”. I think one of the reasons this one got me thinking is because there are still some things I’m not poeming about, because I don’t want to share them. I’m inching toward them, the darker uglies, but I’m just not there yet. I do believe that art should be, above all, honest, and I think that over the course of this year all my secrets will come out in poems, which is terrifying. Like I needed a way to make it scarier! Oh well.
Oh!I just listened to her. I’m going to see if I can, nope, I can’t upload unless I want a Space Upgrade, and I don’t know what that means, and I don’t really have time to figure it out now. Anyhow, I’m glad that I did, because she has a slow, powerful voice and her chosen emphases did make me think about some of the lines differently, especially the way she said “And now it’s in you, secrecy”.
Anyhow, on secrecy. Thinking about it has gotten an image in my brainspace, and now I’m going to try to poem it:
Preparing the confessional, she scatters broken glass,
the pieces she’s swept up just before dawn and saved for this purpose.
She adds metal spikes, tacks and forks with bent tines
and some rusty nails from the old fence.
The light is early dawn when she pulls up her innocent garments, bares her knees, and kneels.
Soon she will spill it, this secrecy, in bright red drops,
that run down her chin and neck, and onto her palms.
She wants it out, the stinging hot blood
and private lies that hide and snake around,
constricting her heart.
Soon she’ll be begging for her penance,
from an empty booth,
no reconciliation here,
nothing beyond the partition,
no sacrament for the penitent,
but she’ll speak it anyhow, grind the glass into her kneecaps,
feel the thickness on her tongue as the blood cools in her mouth,
and wait for salvation to come down.
She does not think it will help.
I don’t even know. I wish I had something awesome and funny to share with you. I feel like that was kind of a downer. It is okay if I bum you out, though, because its better than not doing it at all. That’s where I am tonight, and that is okay. Where are you, you readers of poem? Happy Tuesday!