“The current moment” has a way of inserting itself into poetry I write, not just these past weeks but always. I look at my poems written in the wake of the 9/11/01 attacks and can see reflected in their pacing, tension, or imagery some aspects of the anxiety of those days. Not that I wrote much poetry that employed that current moment as a topic or narrative…just that the numb dread, surprise, and confusion managed to enter in. Poetry can contain and convey those hard-to-describe emotional tensions. Ambiguities. Conflicted feelings. Multitudes.
Poetry, by its nature, requires synthesis. For example, metaphor is one type of synthesis. In Carl Sandburg’s poem “Good Morning America,” he famously says that “Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.” (But then, he also says “Poetry is a pack-sack of invisible keepsakes./ Poetry is a sky dark with a wild-duck migration./ Poetry is the opening and closing of a door,/ leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen/ during a moment.”) Make of it what you will.
A few posts back, I mentioned my dad has been showing up in my poems recently. That’s still occurring. This one doesn’t have a title yet, as I’m still mulling it over and will probably revise the whole poem down the road. The initial impulse for the poem had nothing to do with my father or the war in Europe, and we do not have any daffodils in bloom right now. But there they are.
[Verge] On the road’s verge, geese stand looking unctuous, vaguely irritable as I pass them going 50 on the route I’ve taken for decades and this time I recall two years back, when my dad was failing, how eagerly I sought any sign of seasonal change— early-flowering witch hazel, or crocuses, quince, swells in daffodils’ green emergence while inside myself the slow emergency of his dying began to open from probable to imminent. I drove south idly; through the windshield I looked forward to nothing, as my mother talked of nothing when he floated in his haze of pain and Dilaudid while holding one hand over his head as though he could, with his fingertips, pull the ache from his left ear over his head and into the room where it might exit. Now, the exodus occurs elsewhere, in refugee waves of people whose minds and bodies lug their different pains across other kinds of borders. My father’s experience of earth has ended, his baptism complete. His birthday was in April. See there, along the roadside? Daffodils. ~~