Monday, August 2, 2010

Talking Across Ravines

Poem of the Day:
Coleman Barks' "Lightning Bugs and the Pleiades"
The Georgia Review, Summer 2010

Barks' poem is long. Masterfully spurred by the practice of catching of fireflies at a young age, his piece covers nearly a man's entire emotional life, -- the poem ends with this stanza:

They open, you know, as roses do, pine cones,
from being tightly wrapped in themselves
to being how we all might become
this very moment, pointy, sinewy,
and ready for the fire of someone else's presence.

The section of his piece that most intrigues me -- or in the case of this blog, most relates to my day -- is the following:

That was the dell where we children
ran after lightning bugs, little poets looking
for the right word, letting them light
on the backs of our hands, then scintillate
off, which is all they do for the fourteen days
of their short lives, with surely some sleep.

In this Barks describes a romanticized youth spent catching fireflies, analogizing the act into the process or writing poetry.

Tonight I had a lesson in words, specifically in speaking. While riding the T to my dance class I encountered a conversation in sign. A man and a woman, seemingly a romantic couple, sat across from one another on the subway, speaking (or signing) back and forth. The nearly empty train seemed abuzz with their motion...and what appeared to be their many jokes, as the woman laughed heartily, though soundlessly, for the entire ride.

I was made breathless by the sight of the two communicating. At first, I couldn't reason why lovers would sit across from one another. As I came to understand their situation in the world I understood that sitting further away from one another allowed them to communicate better. The canyon, the large gap between them, was not a hindrance but a necessity. She had to see his hands and mouth, he hers.

Barks too comprehends a connection between touch and words. He writes, "little poets looking/for the right word, letting them light/on the backs of our hands, then scintillate/off" (lines 30-33). In his words I see my signing couple, gesturing in the air like children running amuck after a sea of lightning bugs.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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