More and more I'm thinking of resilience and sorrow all mixed up together. Meaning, on waking, I want to sleep but not because I want to sleep because (but) I want to not be awake. This sounds depressed. Sorrow fills me up but doesn't define me in the same way that watching Sophie seize never gets easier. On June 14th, it was twenty-five years since she'd been diagnosed. Muscle memory. I could keep plumbing the depths of sorrow. Fathom the plumb unfathomable. It's down to words. Rage is just a cover for sorrow and everyone knows that.
Carl and I went out on the water yesterday on a whale-watching boat. Everyone was in masks except for a small group of over-dressed ladies who spent the entire time taking selfies. I steered clear of them and anyone else who came too close (oblivion) and found a quiet spot at the back of the boat. I sat in the sun with my face up, watched a couple of pelicans soar, at least a dozen terns torpedo into the water and a hundred or so dolphin dive and swim in the choppy water. It was cold. About halfway through the trip, a minke whale. At some point, mesmerized by all of this and the hum of the boat and the muffled shrieks of the people on the bottom deck, I wondered what it would be like to throw myself overboard, to slip in the water much like Hart Crane did after folding his overcoat over the railing. No one would see. Could one drown oneself? Could one keep gulping water or would the instinct to breathe, to thrash to stay alive kick in? This sounds depressed. The boat rocked me, though, and the late afternoon sun made the chop gold and glint, Carl was off in the distance, his lens raised and the sorrow rocked, too, back and forth, calm and soothing, making me who I am not quite all filled up.
Here's an excerpt from "Winnie," a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks:
Yet I know that I am Poet! I pass you my Poem.
A poem doesn’t do everything for you. You are supposed to go on with your thinking. You are supposed to enrich the other person’s poem with your extensions, your uniquely personal understandings, thus making the poem serve you.
I pass you my Poem! — to tell you we are all vulnerable — the midget, the Mighty, the richest, the poor. Men, women, children, and trees. I am vulnerable. Hector Pieterson was vulnerable.
My Poem is life, and not finished. It shall never be finished. My Poem is life, and can grow.
Wherever life can grow, it will. It will sprout out, and do the best it can. I give you what I have. You don’t get all your questions answered in this world. How many answers shall be found in the developing world of my Poem? I don’t know. Nevertheless I put my Poem, which is my life, into your hands, where it will do the best it can.
I am not a tight-faced Poet.
I am tired of little tight-faced poets sitting down to shape perfect unimportant pieces. Poems that cough lightly — catch back a sneeze. This is the time for Big Poems, roaring up out of sleaze, poems from ice, from vomit, and from tainted blood. This is the time for stiff or viscous poems. Big, and Big.