Saturday, April 5, 2008

the river whose name begins with L

The name of the author is a first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never heard of.*

It's harder than it looks, unlearning all you know. So much wants to resist the vanishing away. You slam the door and turn the lock. You coax, cajole, make promises you don't intend to keep. You dig in gardens where hortensia bloom. You cut your hair and change your name.

And still it's not enough. Remains remain. You're tangled by the knots they leave behind. Air's far too thin to hold them all and at the burnt out house, bricks show exactly where the chimney was. You wave the wand over the box -- abracadabra! -- but, inside, a pink nose twitches, pink eyes stare.

It takes a blank determination, takes tools -- a shovel and a gun. It can be done. I've covered them up, blotted them out, watched them sink in mirrored rivers, left them shivering by the side of the road. I've spent long nights in an empty house, walking from room to room. I can't sleep til I've turned out all the lights.


*Read the rest of this poem here.

19 comments:

thailandchani said...

You are so right! It really is very hard work. (I'm somewhat familiar since I had to alter so much conditioning when I chose Thai)

the dragonfly said...

I thought that was Billy Collins! He's one of my favorite poets. :)

ms. G said...

I like this, Niobe. Thanks for sharing it with us.

slouching mom said...

this was incredibly beautiful.

Tash said...

I didn't have to unlearn anything -- I forgot everything, whether I wanted to or not. Except, you know, THAT. THAT I remember. Everything else? Gone. According to this poem, my daughter's future homework will be an adventure in the internet and depression.

Awake said...

Beautiful and True. A perfect Niobe post.

Julia said...

Turning off the lights is good for you and for the environment. Or something like that.

Have a good trip.

painted maypole said...

wow. i have not words, i'm just here, trying to breath with you.

Angela said...

I think I liked this.

Magpie said...

Have a lovely trip, you enigmatic soul.

Aurelia said...

This is very lovely and haunting. Have a good trip my dear.

Sarah said...

i've been impressed with the pictures you've taken with your camera, but what you painted with those vowels and consonants is....exquisite

Rachel said...

Enjoy your trip, Niobe.

Kami said...

Perhaps it is pointless to try to unlearn what we know. Innocence is lost, never to return.

A beautiful post.

Emily said...

I wish I had something clever to say. I will just wish you well in Paris...

allypally said...

Thre's a lovely tradition in Eglise de Saint Germaine-de-Pres where you can offer notes or prayers to Saint Rita and as I understand it, the sisters read it and pray for you. Even if you don't believe, it's nice to know someone is hoping to help, who can perhaps remember to turn out the lights if you forget.

Monica said...

I'll be thinking about this poem for ages. Thanks for sharing.

Antigone said...

But that's what google's for.

Ahuva Batya said...

Your posts often leave me grasping for words that are worthy of a reply.