Thursday, July 21, 2011

Somehow It Seems Sufficient

Holy Toledo ~ The 2011 Napa Valley Writers Conference is about to start! Feels like I'm in the batter's box, waiting to get called to the plate.
Last few days have been all about prep: arranging classrooms, writing introductions, finding my suitcase, cleaning my dress-up outfits. Tucked into one of the side pockets of that suitcase, was a much creased piece of paper, notes scribbled all over it, with lines and arrows and exclamation marks*, and this poem from Major Jackson's inspiring craft-talk last year.

(I love how the whole poem rolls down the page, with the slow, intense weight of a running stream, pushed by the commas and colons, the only punctuation until the final period.)

Gravelly Run

I don't know somehow it seems sufficient
to see and hear whatever comings and goings is,
losing the self to the victory of
        stones and trees,
the bending of the sandpit lakes, crescent
round groves of dwarf pine:

for it is not so much to know the self
as to know it as it is known
    by galaxy and cedar cone,
as if birth had never found it
and death could never end it:

the swamp's slow water comes
down Gravelly Run fanning the long
   stone-held algal
hair and narrowing roils between
the shoulders of the highway bridge:

holly grows on the banks in the woods there,
and the cedars' gothic-clustered
   spires could make
green religion in winter bones:

so I look and reflect, but the air's glass
jail seals each thing in its entity:

no use to make any philosophies here:
   I see no
god in the holly, hear no song from
the snowbroken weeds: Hegel is not the winter
yellow in the pines; the sunlight has never
heard of trees: surrendered self among
   unwelcome forms: stranger,
hoist your burdens, get on down the road.

                                  ~ A.R. Ammons

* and directions to the Martini House on the back

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