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.
James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
Before she died, my mother told me
I’d make the monster that would kill me,
so I knew this was someone else’s death
creeping into my field, butchering my cow.
I recognized its lone eye and two mouths.
Perhaps it mistook the lowing for the call
of its own kind. I didn’t mind the heifer—
she’d been sick for weeks, her death a mercy—
but her calf circled, refusing to leave even
as the creature pulled out its mother’s tongue,
fed one of its mouths and moaned from the other.
The intestines glowed dully in the moonlight.
The calf bawled. The disappointed mapinguari
sat, thousands of worms rising out of the split
heart it held, testing the strange night air.
I’ve outlived all the miracles that came for me.
My mother was wrong and not wrong,
like the calf who approached the monster
and licked the blood from its fingers.
Nothing is ever over in a place
like this, which is one
Of the reasons why people come
to look at it. As an
Exhibit the waterfall is naturally
unsurpassed: part of
Its fascination must be in the way
it demonstrates how
an event can still be permanent when it depends for its
Definition on continually going over the edge
—Douglas Crase, The Revisionist