Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I can't shut my big yapper.

I am in Denver and I can't stop with the people watching. It won't stop! Like, well, there was this "woman" on my plane that looked a bit like a Barbie doll, only her face revealed the fact that she was likely a he at some point. Maybe she still is, even? So, that was a bit of a train wreck to observe. The men couldn't stop looking away, no matter where she/he was in the airport, but, well, couldn't they see the fairly male face on top of the plastic oversized breasts spilling out of her top and those tight spandex pants? I mean, I could. I really could. Anyway, the person won what "she" was looking for ... so many gawkers. Males were simply powerless around her. If only they'd spent some time on her face.

Switching gears a tick, the sunshine spilling in the windows everywhere and the immediate nap I scored on the ride over and the fact I get to wander like a nomad all over this city after a short bus ride (coming right up), these things all swirl together to bring me some kinda unspeakable joy. I'd explain it better if I could, but that's all I can muster. This moment, this long moment and the ones that will follow into tomorrow, they are good ones to live for. I get to do cartwheels on the inside and nobody will ever know.

That's enough. I wanted to share a poem by the magnificent Billy Collins that I re-read on the plane. It, too, stung me with a pang or three of the happy. I love it for so many reasons. I hope a few out there at least like it some. (You can listen to him read it by going over HERE, too, something I'd recommend. Give it a second, patient ones ... it'll come.)


By Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,

skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive—
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!"—
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page—
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil—
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet—
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."


Sherpa said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing.

Rebecca said...

I. Loved. It. And I'm jealous that you're in my hometown. =)