Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the Great World Small

How dear my kitchen table is to me.  How many poems I have begun writing there, while sipping a glass of wine, a pot of water boiling on the stove for pasta, a sauce simmering.  It's the place for silent scribbling in journals - Rob will sketch in his while I write meandering lines with my fountain pen. And it's the place for conversations with friends and with our daughter.  It's messy, stacked with books, and littered with post-it notes.  There will often be a flower in a vase, a bowl of fruit.  There is the bowl of polished stones in the center and friends will fiddle with them, try to stack them while we talk.  

Of course the table is central in our life because it is the center, usually, of still lifes.  It holds objects aloft, the things that still lifes are made up of, puts them in the way of light.  But who ever thinks about the table?  

Flipping through my collected poems of Charles Reznikoff this morning, I read the poem that acts as a preface. Written by George Oppen.  Here it is:

In Memoriam
Charles Reznikoff

who wrote
in the great world

small for this is a way

to enter
the light on the kitchen

tables wide - 

spread as the mountains'
light this is
the poem

to write

in the great
world small

And I had the time, so made some tea and just sat at the table and watched the morning light caress the expanse of the kitchen table.  How liberating it is to think about writing small in the great world.

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