The Unswung Bat

Thursday, February 24, 2005
 
If I Had My Way . . .

If you leave a bowl of milk by your back door, very small men will come to do your typing.


Is there a frustration worse than spending all day trying to write something and coming up only with a sheaf of mostly blank pages, each one but slightly marred by unusable patches of penscratched notes? Yes, but that's more than enough for me.

But here I am writing a post instead of tomorrow's essay. It's been one of those days when nothing seems right. You know the feeling when you can't stay or go, think or forget, like being underwater, knowing that if you inhale you'll suffocate, but you can't hold your breath, either? I'm supposed to write but I can't read.

I'm to compose fifteen-hundred words on this:

Fabrications

     As if to prove again
The bright resilience of the frailest form,
A spider has repaired her broken web
Between the palm trunk and the jasmine tree.

     Etched into the clear new light
Above the still-imponderable ground,
It is a single and gigantic eye
Whose golden pupil, now, the spider is.

     Through it you can see the flash
Of steeples brightened as a cloud slips over,
One loitering star, and off there to the south
Slow vultures kettling in the lofts of air.

     Each day men frame and weave
In their own way whatever looms in sight,
Though they must see with human scale and bias,
And though there is much unseen. The Talmud tells

     How dusty travellers once
Came to a river where a roc was wading,
And would have hastened then to strip and bathe,
Had not a booming voice from Heaven said,

     "Step not in that water:
Seven years since, a joiner dropped his axe
Therein, and it hath not yet reached to bottom."
Whether beneath our senses or beyond them,

     The world is bottomless,
A drift of star-specks or the Red King's dream,
And fogs our thought, although it is not true
That we grasp nothing till we grasp it all.

     Witness this ancient map
Where so much blank and namelessness surroud
A little mushroom-clump of coastal towers
In which we infer civility,

     A harbor-full of spray
And all the loves which hint at love itself,
Imagining too a pillar at whose top
A spider's web upholds the architrave.

What do you think?

It's not much of a word count, although that's because the teacher gave us exactly two days to write it.

I've got nothing. The poem is a spider web. The instant I try to grasp at it it sublimates into a few clinging strands of nothing. The slightest probe or attempt at finding out what it's about disrupts everything in it - I can't trace the strands.

The eye of the spider web, the weaving and reweaving of our own perspectives, the depths of the world beneath and beyond our sight and senses, the Talmud and Alice in Wonderland, and all the loves which hint at love itself.

I have nothing.



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