Mercury day poetry: Meditation at Lagunitas

In one of our past lives (during this lifetime), Bobbie and I knew a thing or two about poetry. (We still may.) We knew living poets. (OK, we still do.)

Bobbie’s mentioned Richard Kenney once or twice. Another poet we crossed paths with was former U.S. laureate Bob Hass. (We highlighted his Issa translations before.) He’s both a gentle soul and a master craftsman when it comes to language. We had a wonderful Thai dinner with him once.

This is a late 1970s poem, and it is one of my favorites written since 1950 or so. (That happens to be a fairly short list.) You could say it is about our inability to know the world — or our audaciousness in thinking we don’t.

Meditation at Lagunitas

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

 

Posted by Steve

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theconfluencecountdown

Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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