river road trail, south/42nd st/edmund, north/33rd st, west/43rd ave, south
Below freezing this morning. Sunny. Clear, uncrowded paths. A delightful view of the gorge. The wind has done a wonderful job of taking down most of the leaves so I could see the sparkling river and the bluff on the other side. I don’t think I will ever tire of that view, especially when the sun is shining through the few remaining leaves, making everything glow yellowish-orange. Running on Edmund, I admired an amazing, almost fully leaved tree. At first glance, it looked light orange to me, but gradually it looked more yellow. What color was it actually? Since I don’t have many cone cells left–the photoreceptor cells in the macula that enable us to see color–my colors are sometimes strange. Duller, off. You might see yellow when I see pink, gold when I see green. Recited a few Emily Dickinson poems as I moved. I need to start reciting poems again. How many of the poems I memorized this summer do I still remember?
The Precision of Pain and the Blurriness of Joy/ Yehuda Amichai
The precision of pain and the blurriness of joy. I’m thinking
how precise people are when they describe their pain in a doctor’s office.
Even those who haven’t learned to read and write are precise:
“This one’s a throbbing pain, that one’s a wrenching pain,
this one gnaws, that one burns, this is a sharp pain
and that––a dull one. Right here. Precisely here,
yes, yes.” Joy blurs everything, I’ve heard people say
after night of love and feasting, “It was great,
I was in seventh heaven.” Even the spaceman who floated
in outer space, tethered to a spaceship, could say only, “Great,
wonderful, I have no words.”
The blurriness of joy and the precision of pain––
I want to describe, with a sharp pain’s precision, happiness
and blurry joy. I learned to speak among the pains.
Oh, I love this poem and the idea of finding more precise ways to describe/catalog joy. Makes me think of how I want to describe, in more specific words, the joy I feel when looking out at the gorge (and why). It also makes me think of Ross Gay and his book of delights and Eula Biss and her essay on the pain scale.
Even as I like this poem and the idea of precision, particularly in terms of giving attention to joy in the same way we do pain, I’m also thinking about precision as cutting, sharp, violent. Blurriness as soft, less harsh, spreading wider, gentle.
(a few hours later)
Wow, the poetry people on twitter are really delivering today. Here’s another great poem that I don’t (yet) understand, but I love the topic of the other side of the river:
Wrong Side of the River/ Stanley Plumly
I watched you on the wrong side
of the river, waving. You were trying
to tell me something. You used both hands
and sort of ran back and forth.
as if to say look behind you, look out
behind you. I wanted to wave back.
But you began shouting and I didn’t
want you to think I understood.
So I did nothing but stand still,
thinking that’s what to do on the wrong side
of the river. After a while you did too.
We stood like that for a long time. Then
I raised a hand, as if to be called on,
and you raised a hand, as if to the same question.