Saturday, August 27, 2005

Rocks in the Dark

Recently I picked up work on a poem I'd not been able to write previous to this year, a poem about a suicide attempt. It often helps, I find, to read other poets' work touching on the subject matter or the style or tone of whatever poem I'm working on at a given time. Marcus's poem, which I posted yesterday, is one I read when I sat down with his two books, The Broken World and Roman Fever. His books aren't easy to read, certainly aren't cheery little volumes of pert glee, but they are reassuring--reassuring because they address deeply emotional subject matter with an unblinking eye and a calm in the midst of the sorrow and darkness, a calm that speaks to a stable center being possible despite whatever pain or tragedy may come hurtling into our lives to rip them apart.

I've known this center of stability. I've stood there before while huge chunks of my life crumbled and fell from structures I'd once considered unshakable: an area of my identity I'd considered impeccably "normal," my marriage, my ability to choose to do the right thing, my own motivations. The universe blew to dust around me, but somewhere in the center was a place of solidity. It wasn't an island paradise of warm fuzzies, that's for sure. More like a sterile rock in the middle of a frenzied sea. It held, though. It held true.

A large part of me wants to live there, on that rock that feels sterile but is secure. I suspect I'd find it to be not so devoid of life or comfort at all, if I could hold myself there in stillness and acceptance. I'm afraid to try too determinedly, though. The times I've known it most strongly have been through periods of intense pain and personal devastation. Does it even exist without the mind and/or heart's necessity for it? And if it does, is it possible to go there, to dwell there, without hurting at every breath taken?

Tonight Scott is upstairs working in the study; the girls are in bed. I'm sitting in a darkened room at my desk. The windows to my left are open, admitting cool night air, cricket song and the multi-pitched trilling of tree frogs. A fan runs somewhere in the house. The refrigerator hums. The Great Golden Sun Cat has draped his weight across my thighs and lashes my legs lightly with his tail. On the porch, Tongue Depressor Kitty is calling me to come take another look at the little leopard frog she's caught, to praise her and admire her prowess. What more could I want? Why delve into deep places where light grows dim and flickers?

Because. There's something there. There's something there. There's something there.

And it's important.


alaiyo said...

Amen, dear LuCindy, amen.


Fieldfleur said...

You're such an excellent writer, Cindy. I love how you capture such things. When can I buy a copy of your book? Seriously!


Megan said...

Wow... some dark but revealing moments from college just came flooding back.

I echo Fieldfleur's comment.

Paul said...

A good poem touches the soul in a way that nothing else can. It makes us realize that we are alive !

steph said...

It is something to write about - something I would like to read about. Having been on that precipice in a season of winter, I have thought of writing more about it. Thank you for sharing these thoughts of painful memories.

Cindy said...

Beth--I'm sorry you understand, but I'm also glad.

Teri--If I ever write a book, I'll let you know. :) Just be sure to clue me in on yours someday, too.

Megan--Funny what we find in the dark sometimes, isn't it? Little slivers of light hiding under tons of mountainside.

Paul--I hadn't thought of it, but you're right. Pain is a reminder that we're alive, and difficult poems can do that no less than the lighter, airer ones. Thanks for solving this week's conundrum for me.

Steph--DO write about it, by all means! I would value the chance to benefit from your insights.