This poem is an exercise from Susan Schultz's poetry workshop. The print in bold and italicized is taken from Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body. The semester assignment has been to take one passage or poem and translate it through the lens of another form, or another poetic voice. This particular exercise is my translation of the passage into memoir as poetry. I encourage anyone reading this to read Written on the Body, if you haven't already. I hope everyone is taking advantage of the NaPoWriMo challenge, and if not actually writing, then reading the astonishing array of poetry being produced one day at a time.
It hasn’t rained for three months. The trees are prospecting underground, sending reserves of roots into the dry ground, roots like razors to open any artery water-fat….
Some seasons have echoed the trajectory of my life at that moment in time. I have wondered if the weather is taunting me, or if I, in my narcissism, translated everything to a mock representation of my own emotional landscapes.
England suffered a protracted drought between 1988 and 1992.
Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights; the accumulations of a lifetime gather there….
Everyone is a secret. The trick is to listen and read. The key is to decide if you really want to know.
Two hundred miles from the surface of the earth there is no gravity. The laws of motion are suspended….
Two hundred miles from the surface of the earth could go in different directions. I imagine two, but my favorite burrows underground, and I imagine a separate body without gravity miraculously untouched and suspended in a glowing world of magma.
This is where the story starts,
It is easiest to find beginnings at the end when expectation has collapsed and there is nothing left but to open the next door and walk through.
in this threadbare room.
I have always had an inclination to discard at particular junctures in life. the urge is primal and overwhelming to junk large quantities of things I may have spent years collection and years thinking of as indispensible.
The walls are exploding. The windows have turned to telescopes.
The urge to purge does not always come from an outside catalyst. Sometimes it has (moving/getting a roommate), but often, it is as if a switch has been flipped, a circuit calibrated to a biorhythm my awareness is only marginally privy to sensing. My conscious mind is usually annoyed by these unwanted and uninvited intrusions. The received implication always being that I am less in control than I think I am.
Moon and stars are magnified in this room. The sun hangs over the mantelpiece.
At other times, the exterior intrudes. It is the catalyst. It looms large in the middle of myself, and I cannot move around it. The biggest surprise comes when I find I do not want to avoid the outside, and that I have issued an invitation, and that I am happy when the response is yes.
I stretch out my hand and read the corners of the world. The world is bundled up in this room.
When one person, or one relationship, becomes the whole world, I become myopic. My lenses are the severed bottoms of glass bottles, so everything becomes disassociated (even my glasses struggle to find their whole) or only associate to one person, or one moment, or one space. I cannot imagine this not distorted, even as I am inside it, even as I dig deeper into a binary hermitage.
Beyond the door, where the river is, where roads are, we shall be.
Then there is un-entanglement. Then snarls are unraveled, and the inevitable is met with a test.
We can take the world with us when we go and sling the sun under your arm.
The most dangerous moment for us, we find it when we break our closed circle and ask in another, or when we become linear, or fragmentary, and rejoin the world as pieces.
Hurry now, it's getting late. I don't know if this is a happy ending but here we are let loose in open fields.
The most dangerous moment for us cannot be avoided forever. We cannot exist as a 0 and a 1 as if this pair is all that is required. Our sequences are more interesting than this when we open a door and find our encrypted language unexplained, fierce, and contrary. This is just another beginning.