Thursday, April 11, 2013

Paterson: Book II, Chapter I, p. 45--"How Do I Love You? These!"/Preceding Whispered Voices (II)

A Note to Readers:

You should not listen to such notes.  Nevertheless, here: I read Graham's poem by this title not an hour ago, and it is both beautiful in its own right and profoundly convicting for me, and for how I feel about this project.  You see, I have always craved the detachment Paterson gave me.  It was a place full of interest, and emotion, and tragedy, and all the things that make art so fascinating to make.  But it was only obliquely "my" place.  This meant that my personal engagement with these poems has always been primarily intellectual: their content fascinates and engages me, but it has never worked in the other direction: I have not truly poured myself into anything I have done here.  But Graham just broke the fourth wall in this regard.  And I will reciprocate.  This poem is not carefully crafted.  I'm not sure if its metaphors hold, or if its structure is sound--I intuited those things as I wrote them, but this time--for the first time--I tried to capture myself, rather than a version of myself dressed up in period costumes.  It's not always pretty.  In fact, it's blatantly hypocritical.  But this project is more, now, than a wild shot at innovation and interest.  It's been seven years, and it's a part of who I am, and a part of who Graham is. And that Graham is also a part of who I am is absolutely true.  Thank you, Graham, for continuing to do this thing with me.  KMC

"How Do I Love You?  These!" / Preceding Whispered Voices (II)

Pillar of Salt!

I will not remember
you!  I know how
that little game goes!

Isn't that what this has all been about?
The falls aren't the river,
they're the past.  They're the
spectacle we make of the water
that's gone.
The falls are the memory we have
of a thing not there
at all.

There are no "falls."  There is
water, and rock, and the flowing
of one over the other.
"Paterson" will not be a name we give
to a thing we cannot hold,
a thing we cannot keep,
a thing we cannot know,

unless we are carried along within it.

(200 steps...)


The falls are a place on a map
picked up from a convenience store
somewhere up Haledon Avenue--
halfway to Franklin Lake.

The falls are a dot
you think you see
from the summit of Mt. Garrett--
that sleeping giant
of Williams's verses,
on its side
in the New Jersey flats--
snow crusted
around the bases
of trees.

(another 200 steps, and then...)

I will not play another game with you
old man!

I will not set down in a place
what is not in a place.
I will not surrender what breathes
to a memory.
It is not a memory.
I, like Lot's wife, know
how treacherously memory works.

There can be no reflection
without a pause to take it in.
There is no name
that does not undo what has been named.
There is water.
There is water.
There is water.
                                I will remember this!

I will remember this.

Help me.
No more poems.
No more metaphors.
I'm done with fish and their nets.
I'm done with Paterson and its ghosts.
I will not look back.

We know what happens to those who do.

I will flow over the rocks of the falls
and you will flow over them with me.
We will jump
as Sam Patch once jumped.
Let others tell the story
or take the picture
or write the poem.

I will not remember
you wrongly.

KMC 4/11/13