otherwise

forays

Monday, April 13, 2009

where to house
that lone thought

little pieces of hail
--memory slips--

fall on
and on

an un
finished basket

like a big spider

neither will ever
be a bone

people I know are going
are a loss of stories

big wars
with dumb drones

cover over
the daily thirst

to live between
moments of thirst

and state

over the dead
who've stopped
wanting

Machaut, though
seems a guarantee

or a promise
without guarantee

as the thought is a promise,
the thought that

got lost.


2
Then there's the thing I said
instead of asking how you were
when I knew the answer was "bad,"
though it's not the answer you'd have given
had I asked. Accidentally
I pushed the button in my pocket
and Machaut burst into my ear
as if someone were calling from
an impossible distance, near and far,
in which the thought got lost.


Today's reading: Andrew Levy's Memories of My Father, another book whose excellence I'm not sure I can explain here. The book centers doubly around memories belonging to and memories about its main subject. When it's closest to literal description (especially of the hospital as the father is dying), the point of view seems to shift between that of the author and that of the father (tilting, for example, around the "gaze" and the father's complaint (?) that everyone is looking at him). The main thrust of the book, however, is the enactment, in poetic thought, of Levy's father's ethical nature, of the relation of memory to ethics, the taking in of ethical substance through memory and the process, through writing, of keeping memory active, preserving its verbal sense (remembering, an ongoing reincorporation and renegotiation) against its freezing into a noun (a container for past images). This ethical memory spreads to address economics and war, the resonances between the Depression and the war the father was in and today's circumstances. And, returning again and again, there's the question of why one writes, and what, and how. The doubt contained in this question is a positive doubt; Levy's book is, among other things, composed of answers.

(It's especially moving for me to read it as part of the sequence of books from the last few days, to connect and contrast its humanity with the kinds of humanity in and behind Iijima, Jeffers, and Koch, their different kinds of attention and their relations to the living and the dead, these embodied social presences. Something about love.)

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