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Writing

I was going through my scribble book this morning, copying out the stuff that might eventually find a place somewhere, when I came upon some lost words on writing. I know they’re not mine, because I put quotation marks around them. I know they’re not from a book I was reading, because those things end up in my commonplace book. But they’re not attributed, and I have no memory of writing them. The read –

“I always start writing in a state of confusion. As I write, if I’m lucky, I get a glimpse of answer, and then another glimpse. I write solely for those glimpses.”

 

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What good is it, my love, that words outlive us if we are no longer there to read them? I am uninterested in posterity. The path I trace on the flare of your hip is a literature far greater than the contents of any book. It’s meaning is truer, more certain.

I almost never include images on this blog, because part of my purpose is to emphasize textuality through a medium that emphasizes visuality. However, my mother, Mary Jo Gordon has created a painting in response to one of my prose poems, “The Genuflection of the Moment”, so an exception is in order. I’ve also reprinted the source poem below.

The Genuflection of the Moment

There is a drifting and a falling that seizes time when the sun is setting and a summer is becoming an autumn and the heat of a day is fraying into the cold of a night. Each moment then genuflects to the circling of the sun and of the seasons, and their adoration makes us all the hushed attendants of a mystery. This time disdains all measure, passing with the incalculable rhythm of rustling leaves and blowing grasses and singing insects and cresting waves, finding the hollows and the spaces of the dimmed day. Such moments are marked only in their passing. They leave no inheritance. Without memory or remainder, they are only the splendid instant of their worship.

Why is there such general terror of the empty page? It is because people discover in it that they have nothing to say — no stories to tell, no ideas to share, no passions to express. They look at the empty page and see that they too are empty.

For those who are full, however — full of living — the page is no terror, however empty it may be, because its emptiness is an incitement to make it full, to pour it up to the brim.

This is the lesson of the empty page — if it terrifies you, do not waste your time trying to overcome it. Instead, go, live more deeply, think more carefully, do more passionately — live — and then, when you are full, the empty page will beckon.

How is it possible to write the beautiful without writing the ugly also? And if we write both as fully as we feel them, how would the writing of it be comprehensible? Who would pretend to know it? It would surpass both the writing and the writer. It would no longer be writing but living. To read it would require entering into it bodily, like another universe, and there would be no returning from this journey, for there is no returning from the beauty and the ugliness of a life once lived.

I want to write about nothing except home, nothing, to write about nothing but being at home, coming to home, finding home, because it is the only thing in me that is worth writing.  It is the one true thing that I have to say.