Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Meditation 97

7 October 2020

If we have not seen the president for 48 hours, does he still exist? The secret for taking good photos is to hone in til context is gone. Get so close the object dissolves into detail. The lotus appears as many eyes on a flat green surface. Word scraps gaze from nests of grass and seed pods. But the missing president lacks even the context of a balcony. His allusions are illusion, his salute to none but the cameras he knows point at him. He returns for a retake, without sharp intakes of breath. If we have not seen the president for 48 hours, do we exist in the same way, as lenses to his skin, his hair, his tie? See how the poet removes herself from the poem and offers up a camera lens, I tell my students. It’s as if the poet’s on a rail at a football game, running back and forth like a wide receiver without a route. Soon the camera on a rail will give way to a drone, so even machines will be unemployed. To be redundant is to say it all again, without the force of a poem’s repetitions. Redundancy is the weak strongman of rhetoric, divorced from a refrain. To write the poem of this time is to acknowledge one’s lack of power. Words with power are told as lies, after all. To write the poem is to be stubborn, habitual. This is it, the poem, because I write it in the morning. When someone asked about the phrase “this is it,” I thought he referred to Thich Nat Hanh. “I guess this is it” were my father’s dying words. Thay is dying, though you can order his calligraphy on-line. Attend to the words no one wants, like “this” and “that” and “there.” That’s the poet’s gift, dying into words that merely point. There’s no sentence here.

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