Photography by Leeta Harding
…art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
The poets we gather this winter are leaves from disparate trees, and we have made a little house of them against the cold. A fallen leaf looks simultaneously backward and forward. The spirit of what we hold is elsewhere, oscillating between worlds. How like the soul of any experience.
So too, if every lived moment is connected through the self, successful poems indicate a crossroads. An X marks the spot as we move through an intersection of being. And what beside reckoning and vernal anticipation is winter really good for? In itself, it is nothing. But just as Stevens writes, it causes us to see the “Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”
Publicly, we have been slogging through the impeachment trial. We are told that there are versions of truth. Orwell reads like contemporary correspondence. Yeats too. Things fall apart. We witness grand yet petty obfuscation and doublespeak from those who hold our trust, devaluing what our country once stood for in the world, and this affects the private life. And it goes without a fight. It goes because we let it go.
Privately, having crossed my body’s mid-century mark, I now attempt to reconcile my regrets and wasted preoccupations while moving with trepidation into an uncertain future. The light in my eyesight, afflicted by bad genes, is very close to snuffing out. Yet, today, I have enough. I can still read, still see my wife’s face, and work my particular trade. I am both grateful and terrified. When I go to sleep every night, I succumb to a darkness that might very well be forever. And while it is a reminder that the light is precious, it fills the landscape with anxiety.
We are always at a crossroads and so little can be done to recognize it, but it is, after all, recognition itself. Much seems jumbled, unrelated, and yet also clustering and cleaving. There is a message in the noise and I use poetry often as the medium that distills.
The power of poetry resides in the quietest private moments within the public context. It comes like the odd quiet of snowfall, the nexus of tangled moments that allows the poet to create and the reader, according to Whitman, to “get what the writing means.”
Darren Morris, Poetry Editor
Office Hours Are Not Cancelled
Near Boone’s Grave on the Bottom Road
#7 of 8 Columnar Poems