To choose the ordinary light, or push through for radiance?
“I don’t know, I’m one of those that thinks it’s kind of nice to have your heart routinely broken so you don’t get out of practice. Then you really feel the world.”
– Carl Phillips on the recording of his poem Radiance versus Ordinary Light
(this poem was first posted here in 2012)
I recorded myself reading it for Traci this morning. I figured my morning voice has enough rawness to it. I also recorded Jack Gilbert’s Tear It Down. Maybe I’ll do one in Spanish next.
* * *
Meanwhile the sea moves uneasily, like a man who
suspects what the room reels with as he rises into it
is violation—his own: he touches the bruises at each
shoulder and, on his chest,
the larger bruise, star-shaped,
a flawed star, or hand, though he remembers no hands,
has tried—can’t remember . . .
That kind of rhythm to it,
even to the roughest surf there’s a rhythm findable,
which is why we keep coming here, to find it, or that’s
what we say. We dive in and, as usual,
feels like that swimming the mind does in the wake
of transgression, how the instinct to panic at first
slackens that much more quickly, if you don’t
look back. Regret,
like pity, changes nothing really, we
say to ourselves and, less often, to each other, each time
swimming a bit farther,
leaving the shore the way
the water—in its own watered, of course, version
of semaphore–keeps leaving the subject out, flashing
Why should it matter now and Why,
why shouldn’t it,
as the waves beat harder, hard against us, until that’s
how we like it, I’ll break your heart, break mine.
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