Like disaster

by Michelle

I have shunned my blog for a time, preferring passivity, neutrality, since words have a resonance that make things happen. Like an echo, a disembodied voice they order the world as much as they tear it apart. It has been gorgeous to return to sunshine, enjoy a few beach days, perfect waves at Dee Why, reminiscent of youth.

I have been thinking a lot about loss, time and love as an absolute term, like freedom. Is the heart conceptual, analytical? I think so. But there are times when it lays bare its vulnerability, moments of recognition, when it is mute to the mind and answers only to the body. The event is a kind of exiled hovering, a longing that does not belong, a hesitancy becoming clarity. Sometimes we write to immortalise the beheld, that which we hold dear and are destined to lose. Shakespeare does this in sonnet 18 when he writes of the eternal summer that cannot grow old because the lines equate to love’s everlasting principle: ‘this gives life to thee.’

Or we write to right our losses as in Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle ‘One Art’ which apparently took more than a decade to edit to a final draft. (The 19 line form has five tercets, a quatrain and a coupled rhyme scheme.) How beautifully she binds the stanzas with the ligatures of these double rhymes that seem to resist the implied catastrophe:

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (write it!) like disaster.

I think I write here when I’m compelled and cannot turn my attention elsewhere without giving up these words. Maybe it’s because I have no one to address, just this text box to talk to, though I worry that some readers mistake my self-deprecations for existential melancholy. (To speak or be silent? To break or to sing?) I have considered it, not only because there are very few people I care to speak with or trust but since one feels exiled in the liminal space between desire and this knowing. We cannot return to our ingenuous past. That the world is difficult, controlled and corrupted by ignorance, greed, by our egotistical power, but better for this death of the mind, is what I’ve learned.

Oh, and to share some news that for me feels pretty awesome. My poem from the manuscript I have been scribbling away at in the new Wasafiri: