A rough draft at the window.

By sarah 07 Dec 2001

“listening, not capturing every word or nuance,
is when you are participating with what is going on.”
my teacher said to me. She taught me about poetry
while I scribbled notes that made no sense, without
form or context: trying to get it all down. She
smiled, and laughed. Then, reaching down from
her lofty perch on the table, plucked my
notebook from before me. And she cast it into the
fire, where it lay, cold and quiet, among
the ashes. “Poetry” she continued “is the words
on the page. On the page in front of you…” and
she held my eye, conspiratorily, and told me
stories of verse, of the pleasure of rhyme,
and the unending, unfolding variety of scansion
and metre, ending by quoting someone:
“The poem is the language of an act of attention.”

THen she walked to the hearth
and rescued my notebook, and
handed me back this battered,
now stained tome of once-white
pages, and black leather binding.
Then she left em, going back to her
room at the front of the house.
Leaving me here on the long battered
oak table in the kitchen; leaving
me to wonder about attention. And
also what held my attention as had
her eyes. I thought, staring at these
grey pages in the darkening room, the
autumn sun having left the west-facing
window. The now cool breeze, comeing
from the window where from the light
so recently came, deep-set in the stone
wall. This rough, hard chair, cushion
pushed aside, a bony leg tucked up under
me, quickly falling asleep. And breath, not
frosting, but warmer than the air around it.
The gift of “negative capability”, in a house
not ever silent; one that no one hears or listens
to. Suddenly without sense of change or
passage of time, I find myself with an endless
dialogue of perceptions, not to pick or
choose, or even to know the next location of
this non-sequence voice of the room that surrounds

Progress and evolution, our stories of the world
outside of the house, the room, the table, the
chair that surround me, stop dead and collapse
into the smoke of autumn leaves burning
out behind in the hills surrounding. And
I sit here, now, present and finally realizing
that I am aware and have been attentive.

At this though, I smile to myself and
wth this smile break the fullness of
awareness that has held me. The memory
of this evening playing on my lips, I
gather up my things and shuffle back
gingerly favoring my tingling leg.

Tags: poetry homework