||[Dec. 27th, 2015|11:29 pm]
The sky filled again, the day a brief grayness falling into night when the clouds darkness had devoured became visible once more only as the moon rose and, unseen itself, filled them with its borrowed light. Filtered thus to earth it is dim, and barely reveals my breath's fog as it drifts. The faint mottling above is barely revealed as well, and is like my indistinct thoughts, more uncertain than not, but an insistent presence nonetheless. |
The chill seeps into my clothes, and they brush me as I walk with an icy reminder of their existence. All this is actual, but might as well be imagined, so tenuous is my grasp of it. It all seems it might melt away should the stillness give way to a breeze. I imagine the scene collapsing like an empty cloak, and dare not close my eyes lest I miss the event. If I miss it I will never know I was here.
The Manger of Incidentals
by Jack Gilbert
We are surrounded by the absurd excess of the universe.
By meaningless bulk, vastness without size,
power without consequence. The stubborn iteration
that is present without being felt.
Nothing the spirit can marry. Merely phenomenon
and its physics. An endless, endless of going on.
No habitat where the brain can recognize itself.
No pertinence for the heart. Helpless duplication.
The horror of none of it being alive.
No red squirrels, no flowers, not even weed.
Nothing that knows what season it is.
The stars uninflected by awareness.
Miming without implication. We alone see the iris
in front of the cabin reach its perfection
and quickly perish. The lamb is born into happiness
and is eaten for Easter. We are blessed
with powerful love and it goes away. We can mourn.
We live the strangeness of being momentary,
and still we are exalted by being temporary.
The grand Italy of meanwhile. It is the fact of being brief,
being small and slight that is the source of our beauty.
We are a singularity that makes music out of noise
because we must hurry. We make a harvest of loneliness
and desiring in the blank wasteland of the cosmos.
Holy cow, that poem is a downer. Sort of, maybe not quite. I'm left perplexed by "the grand Italy of meanwhile." Great phrase, but what? I'm such a Philistine.
Jack Gilbert lived in Italy for a number of years, but most of his poetry was written after he returned to the U.S. Italy appears frequently in his poems, but is usually associated with images of loss and longing. I don't think he ever got over the place.
Aha! I've no doubt told you my maiden name was Gilbert, and I never got over Italy either. "Loss and longing" is exactly right.