Conversation 12: On Hieroglyphs
The lightest particles gather the energy, he says, and given their density, outweigh stars. Thought follows thought, the interval calibrated on the space between your legs. Your yes fire, your no the crack of a whip. Well, more a filament breaking in a lightbulb. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge can’t be undone. Only muddied, as by motivation. And the way you thrust out your belly as you walk, with almost shameless indifference, makes a void in the air, but no case for cosmic deceleration.
So even if I despair of plane surfaces, she says, writing, even talking, becomes an act of faith that my bondage to grammar and lexicon is not in vain. That these symbols in their beautiful and hallucinatory nudity blind me only to make me see. There is fire under the smoke. The sun also rises and falls.
We still read at risk, he says, but we don’t need to lard the crocodile with arrows. The picture won’t devour us. It is swallowed in the fluid agreements between gonads and frontal lobe at a rate relative to the dark closing in. Yet two speeds in paroxysm need not mesh. A burning heart, failing to strike while hot, may not save the burning feet.
Rosmarie Waldrop, “Conversation 12: On Hieroglyphs” from Reluctant Gravities. Copyright © 1999 by Rosmarie Waldrop. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
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Poet Rosmarie Waldrop b. 1935
POET’S REGION U.S., New England
Poetic Terms Prose Poem