193. I will admit, however, upon considering the matter further, that writing does do something to one’s memory—that at times it can have the effect of an album of childhood photographs, in which each image replaces the memory it aimed to preserve. Perhaps this is why I am avoiding writing about too many specific blue things—I don’t want to displace my memories of them, nor embalm them, nor exalt them. In fact, I think I would like it best if my writing could empty me further of them, so that I might become a better vessel for new blue things.
195. Does an album of written thoughts perform a similar displacement, or replacement, of the “original” thoughts themselves? (Please don’t start protesting here that there are no thoughts outside of language, which is like telling someone that her colored dreams are, in fact, colorless.)…"
There isn’t a word for walking out of the grocery store
with a gallon jug of milk in a plastic sack
that should have been bagged in double layers
—so that before you are even out the door
you feel the weight of the jug dragging
the bag down, stretching the thin
plastic handles longer and longer
and you know it’s only a matter of time until
bottom suddenly splits.
There is no single, unimpeachable word
for that vague sensation of something
moving away from you
as it exceeds its elastic capacity
—which is too bad, because that is the word
I would like to use to describe standing on the street
chatting with an old friend
as the awareness grows in me that he is
no longer a friend, but only an acquaintance,
a person with whom I never made the effort—
until this moment, when as we say goodbye
I think we share a feeling of relief,
a recognition that we have reached
the end of a pretense,
though to tell the truth
what I already am thinking about
is my gratitude for language—
how it will stretch just so much and no farther;
how there are some holes it will not cover up;
how it will move, if not inside, then
around the circumference of almost anything—
how, over the years, it has given me
back all the hours and days, all the
plodding love and faith, all the
misunderstandings and secrets
I have willingly poured into it.
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
I am a new man,
I snarl at her and bark,
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.