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nothing else
january 6, 2011

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Friends of the small hours of the night:

You might think the line was born from what I’ve written recently, but of course it’s yours I’ve met now for the first time. (I meant to respond earlier, read your poem earlier, but didn’t until now, and I’ve read no further than this line and the next, believe it or not.)

If I knew your history, I might read nearer to your sense of plural presence in those hours, as if you front no colon, like an enabling elation of solitude. Think of all the abundant, luscious time belonging to us, to one, to me thinking of friends—I as they as I—of those nights.

The hours belong to a night, this night speaking to me through you—friend? We remember separately so many lovely hours gone, early to the night, small, yet for all you, all of us: such times—reconciled, if not stored away through your colon:

Stub of a pencil, small notebook,

I always have a small notebook with me and, fortunately, a pen. I never liked pencils. But I’ve been fascinated at times by homeless persons apparently obsessed to write in their notebooks, as if sustaining and advancing some intimacy, all they have, through their text. “I write, therefore I am.” I’ve had more moments than I’d ever have tried to log when I must write the idea now or face living with happenstantial fogetting of something vital. Without a pen (it happens), I would grope for anything I can use, like a tribesman making marks before there could be cuneiform, let alone the genius of glyphs. Withering away lucidly, but unable to write, would be horror—except inasmuch as I’ve already done so much that I’m soothed by a place in time, as we all go away “for good,” they say.

Reading lamp on the table,

Let there be light—and the library! And time.

Also, one has to eat and sleep. Culinary delight may be an intrinsic joy, but time is time; so, eating prudently may be the best I can do because my desire has its own gravity in some far reach whose distance seduces well.

Making me welcome in your circle of light.

At home in the solitude, warm and cozy with potential, like a conversation one may have with another one—or educive things.

So, I may have less and less to say to each of your lines as I release myself to the reading as, for the moment, there’s nothing else, only myself in your words.


I care little the house is dark and cold

A mind is drawn into its heartful flow.

With you sharing my absorption

I knew you’d find me.

In this book in which now and then a sentence

I laugh at all the markup I used to do with pages of books: what deserves mere underlining vs. what deserves single brackets without underline vs. double brackets and even double underlining—marginal notes filling tops and bottoms of a page, as if we were doing the page together, and you’d accept my revisions, we became so entwined with each other.

Is worth repeating again in a whisper.

We read to each other, entranced each other.


Without you, there’d be only my pale face
Reflected in the black windowpane,
And the bare trees and deep snow
Waiting for me out there in the dark.

“Nothing Else,” by Charles Simic
New York Review of Books, Jan.13.11 issue

 

 

 

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