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Rhetorical question

December 2, 2009

Robert Creeley died in 1995. I bought his Collected Poems in college (my boyfriend at the time, upon seeing the cover, said, “Just think what a good poet he’d be if he had two eyes!”).

A digression: my younger son was a perfectly delightful baby in every respect but one: he never slept. All right, he slept a little bit, but never for more than forty minutes at a time during the day, and for the first eighteen months of his life, he woke up every hour at night. (I know this sounds implausible. In my delirium I, too, doubted it–every morning I’d say to myself, There’s no way that child just woke up eight times. However, once I had to stay up all night writing a paper, and every single hour, almost to the minute, he cried for me.) It didn’t last forever, but by the time he started sleeping longer stretches, my own nerves were completely shot, and I’d wake up every god damned hour on the hour, and lie there rigid in the dark. I’d forgotten how to sleep.

The divorce is, technically, over, and it’s high time I shaped up. I can relax now, and settle into new patterns, and get on with my life. And yet I worry I’ve trained myself to do nothing but worry. I’ve kindled anxiety in my own stupid brain, to the point where I am in a perpetual swivet (to use my grandmother’s delightful terminology). One reads fearsome statistics about the long-term effects of long-term stress, and one cannot help but wonder–is it possible to be, in fact, irretrievably broken? I have been so tense, so brittle, so wretchedly self-absorbed for so long.

My favorite Creeley poem–a poem I memorized when I was nineteen–is the apotheosis of this particular fear, and of the solace I seek.

The Rain

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent–
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Meghan permalink
    December 8, 2009 2:06 pm

    Hello. I came over from Jenn’s blog at Breedemandweep after reading your comment. You are a very good writer. I never know what to write in a comment, but wanted to let you know that I’m here, reading.

  2. July 16, 2010 10:55 pm

    That is an amazing poem, and this: “I have been so tense, so brittle, so wretchedly self-absorbed for so long” is an amazing line. Or maybe it just resonates with me. Either way, well done. I’m not a huge fan of Carver’s poetry, but do you know “In Switzerland,” with the lines “all of us, all of us, all of us, trying to save our immortal souls, some ways more seemingly roundabout and mysterious than others”? I could have that passage tattooed on my body. It seems to speak to me.

  3. November 21, 2010 6:58 pm

    I lurves me some good poetry… Thanks for the referral!

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