The artistic process is both mysterious and mundane. Mundane in the sense that every poem begins as doubts, clichÃ©s, comments on the weather. Mysterious because at some point, the poem hidden in the rough draft begins to write itself. The act of revision must be both particular and loose, for the nascent poem is its own map or guideline; it has an intrinsic logic of rhythm and thought. A poem is successful when it becomes what it wants to be, rather than what I think it should be. A poem is about perception. Maybe the individual perception seems like a small thing: for a moment, I gave all my attention to this tree, this sky. Nevertheless, to write this moment of attention is a spiritually charged act: it insists that there is meaning in all that we experience; it is an expression of faith in the numinous.
from FOR FOX
Once I mourned for this:
that I had been deprived
of an honest memory of the dead.
There is no such thing as an honest memory.
The love you feel is one thing
and the loved is something else.
At evening I ride the train
and fall into a reverie
like a grudging drawn-out apocalypse.
Going to visit the nearly dead, I tell myself
it is more fitting to visit at sunset,
that I am not wanted tomorrow anyway,
that three people
standing over one small cat is ridiculous,
and I would have to back away,
and take my hand off her,
and pretend that I bear witness.
I would have to
let someone else's hands
usher her to the threshold, which,
even a threshold for a small cat,
is bigger than we
can traverse against our time. Or maybe it's
smaller, maybe Fox
will get down on her belly and narrow her whole self
to the pupil inside her one good eye,
the pupil growing smaller and smaller
as the light grows big. Maybe she will
slip through like a beam of light, or a single
electron in an electron-sized gate.
Where she falls on the other side,
whether she is many places at once,
we have no memory for.
This is what the train makes me think:
that there isn't, in fact, any more
than this motion through time,
that the roses and the tenements
are each unknown,
that we know them
by a shadow of a shadow,
that we know them
by a reflection of light in our pupils,
and upside down at that.
How do we know,
in our squirrel-warren brains,
to turn things right-side up at all?