Now the scene changes, we say, and the next few years
are quiet. It’s another curse, the inverse of the “interesting times”
the Chinese were said to go on so about. Nevertheless, there it is,
as the emptiness needs a something in order to be defined as empty,
which means we spend the next few years talking about other years,
as if that’s what’s important. Maybe that is what’s important. It was terrible,
the hospital stay. The children. Not the children in the abstract way,
but those times worried that this would go wrong, or that, and then things
do go wrong and it almost feels like we’d wished for it to happen,
so not only do we have to go through this terrible time, but we also
have to keep reminding ourselves that we didn’t wish for it. It’s Problem
One. And there’s our two-year-old son strapped to a board with an IV, crying.
And doesn’t it feel like a formal device then? As if expecting it
were the same—or is the same—as willing it, but then almost willing it anyway,
saying something like, “Please God, or whomever, get it over with already . . .”
if the world isn’t going to be a museum only, as museums keep calling out
that there’s so much more to find in the past, like ourselves, for instance.
The simplification of our forms. The question of why it might be important
to save our dinnerware, or Yo-yos. We have these accidents
in common: last night I was pulling a filing cabinet upstairs on a hand truck,
and at the 90 degree turn it fell on top of me and I had to hold it like that,
one wheel on the stair, one in mid-air. So I had some time on my hands,
waiting for Robin to get home. They say that if you relax, lying there
is 80% as restful as sleep. And knowing how to relax is key, they say.
Here’s a guess: we will sit on a wooden lawn-chair in the sun, and we
will like it. We will run the numbers and think it sounds like a good
proposition. We will consult a map, even ask directions. The sun’s
out right now, in fact, and it’s all a matter of doing the next big thing.
Driving home, say. And then it’s a manner of having done something.
Driving past the car wash. Yes, forcing a matter of doing the next
thing, which is filling out the accident report, while the old man
who hit my pickup is crying in the street. And then I’m walking around,
picking up the fender and light pieces and putting them in the bed.
|About this poem:|
"In the fall of 2009 I was rereading John Cage’s SILENCE after buying a CD of some of his compositions titled In a Landscape. I had just finished a long collaborative project with G.C. Waldrep, and wasn’t thinking that I was going to be writing a poem, let alone a seventy section poem. What I would do each morning is put on the CD and ask myself a question (some of them the same questions Cage wrestles with in his book) and then try to answer it 'without making anything up' (whatever that might mean). In section four, I had the first two stanzas written in the morning, thinking about a time our son, Eliot, was in the hospital. And that evening, while driving home after dropping off some visiting writers, I was in a minor car accident, which gave me the final stanza. The full poem will be coming out next September from BOA."