Carol Snow, “In”

I regret not introducing you—okay, I gotta be honest, myself—to more diverse forms of art. Experimental forms force me to be more free with my thinking. More associations, but also more which must be passed over in silence. It’s not about being exactly right in interpretation, but simply trying to understand what could be at stake. Below, you’ll note that I decided rapid-fire association was productive for entering “In.”

“In” sits with four other poems, seemingly linked to them. For now, I want to consider it in isolation. I cannot quite picture myself saying the stones: their qualities in relation… occurs… like shock, occurs. But I have said plenty of things under my breath that were more tone than sense, and often when feeling pressured or anxious I scramble words. Shock does not entirely rob us of speech—

In (from EPR)
Carol Snow

the stones: their qualities in relation — ō — I mean to say — occurs;
like shock, occurs — is located

Stones. In the yard; large as mountains; beside and inside rivers. Toys and obstacles and symbolic of permanence. Qualities: dull or shiny, colorful or gray, hard enough to hurt, hard enough to create a sound, perhaps an echo. ō: not just a long o, but how I’d pronounce the Greek letter Omega.

the stones: their qualities in relation — ō — I mean to say — occurs. “Their qualities in relation.” The diversity of stones among stones, the sameness of stones in a typical setting. You look them over, and then oh, you’re stunned. They are not what you thought they were. They evoke pain and death far too easily; they’ve been slung; if time proof, they call to mind injury from what is timeless. Why would divinity, of all things, hurt one?

A provisional conclusion. Part of us is stone. Stones cause us to react and emit a sound. Our aspirations might as well be stone idols, holding us in contempt. Perhaps they are livelier than we are.

In the second line, back to flesh. like shock, occurs — is located. Stones can be worn away. Their qualities can occur. But flesh shocked—that’s us. We’ve located ourselves. What makes us most unlike stone, being able to be shocked, can make us still as stone when shocked. We are worn away. We “occur.” We speak.

What drew me to talk through “In” was Kay Ryan’s majestic “Erratic Facts,” which envisions the slow processes of geological time causing rocks to resemble eggs. In the hardness of loss, a hope. Time does not merely soften, but gives ground for rebirth. “In,” by contrast, captures the chaos and arbitrariness of shock. At moments we think we have found something lasting, we discover quickly how dependent we are on what is relative. The voice we give injury, however, can begin a new path.

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