I believe that a poem knows where it’s going, often before I do, and well before it has arrived fully formed with its journey complete. There’s nothing particularly mystical about this; it merely reflects the notion that communications in all forms are shared and shaped as much by the nature and flow of the language we use as they are by the form and content we wish to impart.
Language, and poetry in particular, is always hard at work solving the complex problem of coordinating the paths and meanings of its form and content. Its words are like pedestrians on a crowded and busy sidewalk; the nature of their flow determines the path of thoughts and ideas which in turn alter the nature and direction of the whole. This “self-coordination” has a special kind of beauty for the writer because the language seems to both self-organize as well as respond to whatever control the writer exerts in community with the flow of the language. Somehow this partnership works, at least often enough to make the writerly solutions it produces worth doing
The power of language is that it connects us with each other, and creates communities of ourselves with the outside world; in that sense it is a medium informing our sense of what is real in the world by provoking a comparison to the literature it evokes and inhabits. This is one of the great illusions as well as mysteries of art as a whole, that it makes us bear witness to the similarities that are borne out of inherent differences between what we see and what we make, what we wish to say and how it actually emerges.
Portrait in a Room
The absence is in the place someone leaves
behind, departing the room without so much
as another word, an unlikely place to be thinking
someone might be searching for something else
entirely. It is the feeling left behind, the feeling
of a certain way of knowing what works best
and what might take its place. If there is a word
for it, it must be the promise of what is no longer
there to see or know, the promise of a promise
not to be what we hoped or longed for, not to be
left alone in a room, but the promise of that solitary
hour when you spoke softly, slowly of everything.