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Time, Ghosts, Woolf, and a Poem

About time, I’m thinking Virginia Woolf, along with Albert Einstein and Louis Armstrong, invented it.  Everything is concurrent, contingent, and improvised.  Tuesday or Monday.  Tuesday & Monday.  So, just this impressionistic posting for today, tomorrow.

And it’s comforting, just how unstable time is, how the past percolates, never fully goes away, a ghost echo, a presence that remains–and subverts and confounds and, for a moment, reassures. So that we do talk to the dead, continually, and always aware that we are nothing without them, that we are nothing to them.

For she was a child, throwing bread to the ducks, between her parents, and at the same time a grown woman coming to her parents who stood by the lake, holding her life in her arms which, as she neared them, grew larger and larger in her arms, until it became a whole life, a complete life, which she put down by them and said, “This is what I have made of it! This!” –Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

This! Both a miracle and a disappointment, a delight, always.

Woolf’s lines were with me when I wrote a poem for Brittney and Phil, two artists I love greatly, for their wedding just over a year ago.  I was also thinking of just how difficult it is for us to sing, that we are too self-absorbed, too closed off, too troubled, and too wounded. Of course, the suffering would be intolerable if we could not sing.

What is a marriage if not a voice to take whatever it might of the air, or of the wind, or something very old, of the glacier that recedes, yielding what it had borne and uprooted: blue petals, a splinter of bone, a stand of alders? Marriage is a procession. Although, we may forget and wound, our ingratitude corrode, our grievances narrow and compact. How difficult it is to sing, to wrap all the words, our pillows, our grandparents, those birds, this very long morning, to wrap them all about and carry the detritus with us as the oldest oceans do. Every marvelous procession is a rough and brave flight. It is a play. A painting. A song. Your voices that were yours the moment you first spoke as a child, a wonder and worry over that cornflower or that smooth pebble, which will be yours until there is that good silence, the low hum of star decay and fractal light: your voices are strong enough to sing that we are here, yes, that we are well matched, well loved, a good sounding for the wind and road to carry and release, to accumulate, to be something made and made well and be heard.


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