• An Old Favorite

    by  • August 30, 2011 • Events, Poetry, Travel • 0 Comments

    So, I’m in Texas.  In the heat.  The dry, baking heat.  The killing, inescapable, merciless heat.

    Actually, the heat is surprisingly survivable — not just because of the A/C, though it is necessary, but because after a while you just get used to it.  It’s 96 now, but just a few minutes ago I was commenting on how much cooler it is tonight than it was last night.  A few nights ago I had to get into a hot tub (it was 97 at the time) because the pool was too chilly.  It’s funny.

    The landscape here is a tinderbox, arid forest stretched thin over the skin of the rolling Texan hill country — quite beautiful, but with a strange air of fragility.  The property I’m on — the Wizard Academy — is breathtaking.  It has been built with a remarkable attention to and depth of detail.  Check out the pictures.

    Anyway, the founder — Roy Williams — was talking about poetry to Poem and I (well, more to Poem — I tried getting my toe in the door a couple of times with no luck) about whether or not her name had conditioned her to live or occupy a certain identity, and whether some of that identity may be based on a misunderstanding of what poetry can or should be.  He recited an abominably fatalistic Frost poem which prompted me, in a few spare moments, to look up a few poems I used to love and whose titled happened, through some fluke of neurochemical luck, to stick.  Here’s the one that leapt out at me:

    by Charles Simic

    Go inside a stone
    That would be my way.
    Let somebody else become a dove
    Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
    I am happy to be a stone.
    From the outside the stone is a riddle:
    No one knows how to answer it.

    Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
    Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
    Even though a child throws it in a river;
    The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
    To the river bottom
    Where the fishes come to knock on it
    And listen.

    I have seen sparks fly out
    When two stones are rubbed,
    So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
    Perhaps there is a moon shining
    From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
    Just enough light to make out
    The strange writings, the star-charts
    On the inner walls.
    Good stuff.  I need more.

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