As much as it is now true of many of my friends (without whom I can no longer think or write) that they inhabit cities rather far from my own, and as much as I champion and think and write a good deal about being-together, and thus DO want to be with them, I feel equally as strongly--and often at the very same time--that some of my moments of deepest communing take place in what we conventionally call solitude. This is why, of course, so many of us love reading. This is how C. Dinshaw can claim so many wonderful things touch her in the archive. This is how Cary Howie can think as he does about the present enclosing the past--and it is also how high modernists felt so out of step with time in their own way--along with less conventional (but still) modernists like C.S. Lewis who could do their appreciative criticism of medievals as if in the voice of the book review for something that just came out last week.
In this light, 2 poems in my current sphere of reading and thinking.
First, a poem from an Alice James Books Jane Kenyon Chapbook (a now unfortunately defunct award) by Alice Jones, called Isthmus (a word which names one of those wonderful middles). A good deal of the book is actually a little too 'nice' or 'tame' for me as a poet--but these lines are a little bit Rilkean and provoke a particular enigma which obsesses me: connection as the registering of a equiprimordiality of Being and Beings with World (Beings as a phenomena of particular densities of World):
Going out into the break,
in the thick of atoms--
your being? Mine?
Are we the stuff
or the empty acres
in between? I can't place you.
we fly and coalesce again beside
each other: one cleft,
one entering, the primal
grasp of matter: creatures
yoked here, bumped up
breathing, onto the shores
of the world's desire to reach itself.
And then, a textual moment which haunts me many of those time in which I desire so badly to touch something or someone in the midst of reading, from W.H. Auden's "Journey to Iceland" (did I mention I loved High Modernism?):
Europe is absent: this is an island and should be
a refuge, where the affections of its dead can be bought
by those whose dreams accuse them of being
spitefully alive, and the pale
from too much passion of kissing feel pure in its deserts.
Fantastic. Touching, or enclosing, or separating, as events of World desiring itself. In our dreams, certain of us scholars accuse the dead of being alive because we want them to be so. And if it 'worked,' these dreams should call the ghosts into haunting us even when this is most impossible--as part of the very isolating structure of the space of 'Island' and 'not-Europe.' I of course believe (at least I think I do--note that I did NOT write 'call them into being' but 'into haunting': an operation which operates on the condition that a thing just quite isn't) that this 'works.'