Eurydice Pleading With Orpheus to Stay Home
Somehow, having left behind the pain in contemplation,the poet finds, at last, some satisfaction. This ciircumstance, far from undesirable, is understood as a one-way street, a direction with no return. The Orpheus myth is referred to as a way of comprehending the situation.
But it is difficult to release the idea that suffering is a necessary component of comprehension. Can a distinction be made between pain and the image of pain?
In the Orpheus myth,the singer of the dawn may not gaze upon his lover and lead her out of the underworld to the sun's light at the same time. An analogy is drawn to the idea of inderminacy (can't specify a particle's locale and velocity at the same time).
Moments are saturated with choice, caked in blue or orange, numbed by rumble or speech, carved in curve or ridge. Each is cracked open in turn, revealed as hard or soft, lost or found, empty or full, clear or obscure.
What is even more striking and perplexing: no continued light without a frame of dark, no new path without fumbling, no vanishing into pleasure wiwthout the sound of tearing in the soul, before and after, no taste of water in the mouth without a lip of stone that so easily breaks. And, hardest of all, not a hint of the so-called mystery of so-called transcendence without the sublime Ridiculous, the embarassed laughter echoing in the brain so very recently it still can't be forgotten.
The poet endured the public's anger for consenting to so much humiliating awkwardness. Were books to be treated as bibles? Were bookstores to become the churches and temples? I heard that someone recently went into a bookstore just to die. Are we tortured to hold to continued expectations from words? Still, if it doesn't feel holy in your hands, what is it?
It is hard to resist becoming frightened in these times. Events toll by like a bell ringing repeated messages in your ears. How may they be described musically? First of all, they are shaped so they can't be confined. They are made to slip by drifting. Through hythmic intervals of separation, they give names to the alchemy of changing the sound of cymbals to that of rushing water.
As wtih Orpheus, we ask that the poet leave us alone until we want the dawn. Until then, they should practice quietly in their rooms. This is how the cicadas are heard for themselves, bucked by the termporal submergement of television.
In the perception of the division between being and non-being, the poet comes to understand that to know anything means to forget what is already known, to find the sun only by emerging blindly from the shadows.
(2/22/94) (from *Theoretical Objects* Green Integer, 1999)