Settled in the drain outside the greenhouse: petals from all the flowers. Variations of pink, purple, yellow, white. Fresh and wilting.
The poems I love have this abundance. As if the whole world has been torn into confetti. Shreds of school buses and barns, beards and a grandmother's hand, a fork and a tulip settling in little piles here and there. On top of a car, under the porch, in a bird's nest. Story (further story) in synecdoche.
Last night there was a rainbow ferris wheel in the grocery parking lot, part of a temporary carnival. Inside there was an apple display moving from green to red in shades.
Both of us noticed a woman's hair. How long it was, dark underneath and bleached on top.
How to focus, make sense. Simply what we remember? So simple?
. . .
Loosely related, suggestive. (I think in loose associations lately, shadows that appear on the walls of other things.)
I'm reading Anne Carson's translations of Sappho, If Not, Winter, for the "Taking Pleasure" seminar. Our professor tells us to read for what's missing:
Sappho's voice, singing.
Almost all of the papyrus.
Of course the beloved. The gods being called.
One page reads:
I don't know what to do
two states of mind in me
I would not think to touch the sky with two arms.
[The brackets are indications of "destroyed papyrus or the presence of letters not quite legible" (xi). ]
I was fascinated when I first heard a poet discuss everything she’s learned from "misreading." I am still scared of misinterpretation and/or allowing my own imagination to go wild in somebody else’s work. This collection gives us permission, strangely enough. Carson says that she’s trying to “stand out of the way” of Sappho’s words, to let her “show through.” This is the “amiable fantasy” of all translators, she writes (x).
But what happens, at least for me, are continuous openings in the text where I feel like I’m allowed to shape my own stories. Maybe it’s because I’m coming at this work without the knowledge of a classicist—I don’t know how wrong I am in my interpretations—but I feel like these poems allow me play. More: they legitimate historical accident, what has happened to these texts physically over time.
. . .
Today archaeologists accidentally found an intact tomb in Egypt: