Saturday, September 4, 2010

Intercity Volleyball

Day 208 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and I was not the only one reading before and between volleyball matches at the intercity tournament today, but 1) I might have been the only one reading poetry and 2) I was too far away to read titles.

I am still reading Like Happiness, by Michael Hettich, and today the poem "Awake Before Dawn" struck me for two main reasons.

1) I have also written a poem in "awake before dawn" mode, as have many poets, who, probably, are often awake before dawn.

2) It helped me. I love it when poems help me. Stanza two begins, "Another kind of man could turn into a tree," which is interesting in itself, and goes on, "and still be a man," which did not exclude me even though I am a woman and also made me empathize with the speaker who is, evidently, not this kind of man...but maybe wishes he was, so he could "take pleasure in the wind," something I did yesterday, "in the water that flows up into his body," and, whoa! he is turning into a tree!, "and out through his leaves like happiness" (the title of the book!), "refreshing/ that wind with its green life, that wind that travels everywhere," (and here tonight, writing, I recall that strange fact that we are breathing the same recirculating air of history, all over the world), "poking its nose into root-crotch and grotto" (ew!), "calling who's there, who's there into the emptiness / and moving off quickly, before anything replies."

And that was the part that helped me. I could be 1) more like the wind, by 2) "moving off quickly, before anything replies," and then 3) I wouldn't be troubled when nothing replies.

But once I was the wind. I had the visceral certainty of this, like memory. I remembered being the wind. Now that's a little freaky, and something I usually keep to myself, except for the poem I wrote about it, that I keep sending out. Nobody wants to know you were once one of the four elements. Sigh.... But once I met a perfectly sane, lovely, stable woman who knew it was time to pull back when she experienced being a river.

I'm sure there are reasons why I was the wind and she was the river. Mine had to do with fatigue and hunger, evidently pretty common among people who see visions, et cetera. But it was a wonderful feeling, amazing, pretty literally mind expanding.

And not at all like volleyball.


Kathleen said...

Not that I didn't see some amazing volleyball!

seana said...

Oh, I believe you were the wind, alright. And because of this I'll recommend a novel to you: The Voices, by Suzanne Elderkin.

Yeah, that's all I'm going to say.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Seana! Hmmmm....?!

ron hardy said...

I have always wondered if we every really die or if we are ever really born. I started reading The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. Part of the story is about the departed who live in The City and only reside there as long as the living hold them in memory. On the second page people describe their experiences of crossing. No one has the same experience. Quote: "Lev Paley said that he had watched his atoms break apart like marbles, roll across the universe, then gather themselves together again out of nothing at all. Hanbing Li said that he awoke inside the body of an aphid and lived an entire life in the flesh of a single peach. Graciella Cavazos would say only that she began to snow-four words-and smile bashfully whenever anyone pressed her for details." Remembering you were the wind made me smile Kathleen. The pinwheel edge of Earl brought cool clean winds full of the Atlantic here yesterday. And then you were the wind...

Kathleen said...

Thank you, Ron! We got clean, cool winds, too, continuing.

This book you are reading sounds wonderful, and reminds me of the last chapter of a book I was reading recently, by a cultural anthropologist. I like the idea that this is a shared cultural notion, coming out in different ways, this memory of the departed thing.

seana said...

The first chapter (I think) of this was originally a story and got collected in Best American Stories a couple of years ago. Brockmeier said in that collection that he writes a short story as kind of a blueprint of where he wants to go with the novel. I've been curious to read it ever since. But haven't. Bump, bump is the sound of it climbing up my TBR pile.