Robert Creeley, “Oh”

Yesterday I wrote about quiet graces.

Today has been… more difficult, let’s just say that. 

Some days the good can’t be visible. If you saw it, you’d be trivializing your own experience.

Creeley, with quiet shock and horror: “Oh like a bird / falls down / out of air.”

“Oh.” You’re stunned, so you don’t scream. You don’t even think you’re seeing what you’re seeing. Something beautiful—something that indulged the miracle of flying—didn’t just disappear or pass out of life. 

Its body failed. It stopped doing what it had been doing. It died, a result of processes not quite instantaneous. First one critical set of functions fails, then all of them. A moment’s reflection and the mind is drawn to a number of horrors. How frail life is—how little time we have to secure what matters.

Oh
Robert Creeley
 
Oh like a bird
falls down
 
out of air,
oh like a disparate
 
small snowflake
melts momentarily.

There’s a lot of people I know who think anything different is “arrogant” or “ambitious.” They’re usually people who are scared to read. They must hear what to think. The voice needs to be immediate, imaginable.

The way Creeley depicts “oh,” I can almost sympathize with them. How could one possibly understand what’s being said unless it is said? How dare I ever try to take dry words from a page and give them life? I’m just telling myself what I want to hear, no? I’ve certainly met lots of people who read but are incapable of changing their horrible views.

The work of imagining a voice itself drowned in horror is strange. This hasn’t been a fun day. I must weigh my limitations and complaints, not to compare, but to understand. This is perhaps the most alien part of the process for those scared to read. That judgments aren’t “yes” or “no,” “black” or “white.” It’s all gray and some things are decidedly better because we make commitments.

Creeley’s commitment, I gather: “oh like a disparate / small snowflake / melts momentarily.” “Disparate:” don’t let what’s unique slip away. If it does, you have to mourn. You have to have regrets and doubts, because you want to embrace what’s lovely when it appears again.

1 Comment

  1. How could one possibly understand what’s being said unless it is said?

    How could one possibly understand what’s being said unless it is not said?

    How can one possibly say what’s being understood unless it is understood.

    How can one possibly say what’s being understood unless it is not understood.

    Possibility is our witness.

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