Tuesday, March 30, 2010

prelapsarian poetry, or why i write what i cannot

i wrote this last night, a few hours after hearing about a former student of sam's, finishing his senior year in high school, who has passed away. he lost a baby sister when he was in elementary school and leaves behind two other younger siblings. Lord, have mercy.

what i want to write about is what it was like to wake up last saturday morning. but i can't.

(i read somewhere recently where a grieving person was explaining that, in many ways, the first year is not the hardest after all.)

the other day, as i awoke slowly in a leisurely-saturday-ish way, i thought, "eliza is dead and i cannot breathe." that thought, that feeling--the certainty of both of those statements--is what i want to write about tonight. but i can't. because here's the thing (i often think i should rename this blog that: "here's the thing")--here's the thing: if you yourself know the grief that i do (and i know there are a few of you who are reading this who do), then i don't need to try to explain that certainty to you because you already know it for yourself. but if you don't know this grief of your own (and i'm so glad you don't), then i cannot describe it to you. i cannot explain how, fifteen long months after the fact, the realization that eliza is dead and the simultaneous certainty that, as a result, i cannot breathe would strike me upon awakening on an insignificant saturday morning, even as i drew breath after breath. i cannot write that for you.

which makes me think that is what this blog is often about (another re-name for this blog i ought to consider, i think: "which makes me think")--it's about writing around and around and around that which i cannot quite nail down. is that what all this writing is about? is that why i cannot go to bed without my journal and pen nearby, such that, as soon as i slow down and think quietly--listen, even, to that still small voice that i will not allow to catch me all day--is that why it is then that i suddenly have to get back up again and write? am i constantly amassing more and more writing, circling around and around that which is impossible to write simply because it is impossible? because, were it possible for me to explain why i was so certain upon awakening last saturday morning that "eliza is dead and i cannnot breathe" even as i drew breath after breath, i wouldn't need to write anymore.

but i can't, so i will.

which makes me think (there it is again) that this is part of what it means to be fallen. to know and be unable to communicate. to have and be unable to share. what did adam and eve's prelapsarian poetry sound like? with no pain to inform it, no distance from Perfection to try to bridge--what was perfect prose, perfect music like? because they must have existed there in the garden, surely. who can imagine paradise without those elements of beauty? but what did they sound like, not driven by angst or seeking or wrestling or writhing?

i can't wait to find out.

1 comment:

TwoSquareMeals said...

Now I can't stop thinking about it. What WILL the poetry be like? Even the most hopeful writing now is not that of a hope fulfilled, fully realized. So much of what I have come to love in writing is that longing and seeking and wrestling. I can't imagine what it will be to write and read and make music out of a place of complete fulfillment. I do think those works that are beautiful and true now will still be around then, but we will look back at them with wonder that we ever had such longing.

In the meantime, I hope you keep writing around and around. You may not be able to put your grief for Eliza into words, but even the attempt helps those of us who don't know that grief to understand it at least a little.