Mark vs Cancer

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"The Good Flesh Continuing"

Here's an all-time favorite poem: post post-modern, plaintive, aching, nostalgic, evocative, insightful . . . what more could you want in a poem? Every time I read it, it makes me want to run off to the woods, eat blackberries, and write poetry.

Meditation at Lagunitas

by Robert Hass

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.


Danalin said...

We've got a whole mess of wild blackberry bushes at the bottom of the street. Come in September and we'll set up a lawn chair in the midst of them for you to do just that! Maybe you won't spend the whole time eating blackberries and writing poetry, but it could be part of the vacation. In any case, we really want your family to come! And Sept. is prime blackberry season.

Goose said...


Matthew said...

I have never read this poem before, but I'm glad you posted it. It's lovely without being sappy, somewhat melancholy but full of hope and acceptance somehow... very, very nice.

Guzy, just go with the flow man!

I especially dig the line "...each particular erases the luminous clarity of a general idea".