Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 6 + 13 : Joan Swift, Madelyn De Frees, Lucia Perillo, Louis Jenkins, Anna Ahkmatova, Ai

What do salmon, the color white, tomatoes, seals called Earl, conversations with the dead and telephones have to do with each other? They provide detail for the grieving of loss -
I think of Rilke's first Duino Elegy:
If I cried out
who would hear me up there
among the angelic orders?
And suppose one suddenly
took me to his heart
I would shrivel

We discussed:

Joan Swift: Steelhead
Komarovo (with epigram from Ahkmatova -- 6th Elegy)
Madelyn De Frees: To Marilyn Monroe whose favorite color was white
Lucia Perillo: Early Cascade
Louis Jenkins: Earl, The Telephone
Ai: Conversation
Anna Ahkmatova: 6th Northern Elegy
A secret border in human closeness

We might think the salmon know something about endurance, just as those who desire something more colorful than white just might eat a ripe tomato, alone, and suddenly think of a conversation with the dead, where there is no knowledge or memory.

The idea that if the dead return, we would not know them... (Ahkmaotova)is frightening -- and Jenkins deals with it in a humorous way -- if all seals are called "Earl", it doesn't hurt so badly to know one of them is killed by an Orca -- as another "Earl" will show its bewhiskered face. So finally, who do we know when we are living -- and why would it be surprising that our memory of someone not correspond to the stranger before us. Who are we, living, or dead.
Perhaps as Ai concludes, the dead are the ones who can see ten times more clearly, the truth
a terrible, horrible awe no living person could stand.

And the telephone, to bring us connection, is just as useless as a heart which cannot accept a caress, just as empty as a movie star who only comes to life on a screen, just as empty as a woman, who will eat ripe tomatoes alone, gagging on their sweetness, tasting the bitterness of solitude.

And we grieve our losses, and like the salmon, we catch the fish, as slippery as desire, then let them go, realizing like all who desire, they know nothing.

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