Writer’s day out — dabbling with lyric essays
Green walls curve to white near the gate, the creepers swirl behind the hinges, tricking the eyes of whoever watched its dance; its shades shading. Were you tricked as well?
Sitting, hoping, wishing, pleading. Running thoughts of writers darken into a purply violet, not a bright violet, more dull. Just like the early August, but darker, almost burnt and yet more radiant.
“This writer is an egotist,” she announced with a faint smile, folding down pages of her Chanel smelling book. “No,” spilled the word.
“All writers are.” “All?” she gasped. “Of course. Isn’t it fundamentally egotistical to think you have something to say that hasn’t been said before?”
She laughed and threw a stone into the water, forming familiar ripples: peering into the lonely tadpole’s life. A writer’s field day for fresh-sparkling words. ‘The pond was opening and closing its stone lips, as it caressed the reflections…’
Painting one of the left, painting two on the right, more and more paintings. I stood and looked at them for a while, just paying attention while I leaned on my bag — before I remembered where I was and realized that I was standing in someone’s way.
Splendour, and splendour,
and not a one in anyway
distinguished from the other
— nothing about them
of individuality. Says the one most common of all.
It wasn’t long — that same day? the next? — before I was at my desk, trying simply to describe what I had seen. I almost always begin with description, as a way of focusing on that compelling image, the essay’s “given.” I know that what I can see is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg; if I do my work of study and examination, and if I’m lucky, the image which I’ve been intrigued by will become a metaphor, will yield depth and meaning; will lead me to insight.
Because it isn’t just beauty; the world is full of lovely things and that in itself wouldn’t compel me to write. There’s something else, some gravity or charge to this image that makes me need to investigate it.
I need something to serve as a container for emotion and idea, a vessel that can hold what’s too slippery or charged. Will? I can’t choose what’s going to serve as a compelling image for me. Can I?
But I’ve learned to trust that part of my imagination that gropes forward, feeling its way toward what it needs;
to watch for the signs of fascination, the sense of compelled attention — look at me, something seems to say, closely. Sometimes it seems to me as if metaphor were the advance guard of the mind;
Something in us reaches out,
into the landscape in front of us,
looking for the right vessel,
the right vehicle,
— for whatever will serve.
And so I wrote, wrote, smoked and wrote. Painting one on the left, painting two on the right; art.
Everyday he poured his question into her,
as you pour water from one vessel into another.
There is a moment when the water is not in one vessel, nor in the other — what a thirst it was, and he supposed that when the canvas became completely empty he would stop.
But women are strong.
She knew vessels,
she knew water,
— she knew mortal thirst.
He arose laden with doubt as to how he should begin. He looked back at the bed where the grindstone lay. He looked out at the world, the most famous experimental prison of its time. Beyond the torture stakes he could see, nothing. Yet he could see.
And just like that, how curious. I had no idea! Today has ended. Yet the collective life, which is also us, shimmers on.
The nearing dusk air was undisturbed, and a turn would sometimes carry you into a wisp of drizzle or through a channel, five degrees cooler than before. The sun slanted in, weak but still hot enough, and flashed in and out of your eyes. Sometimes you’d cut through a spider web, alarmingly large to be rested on a tree trunk or the sign that read, “Painting isn’t dead. The novel isn’t dead. They just aren’t as central to the culture as they once were.”