the ordinary way I felt about things

I read the poem, a third of it anyway, standing in a bookshop in the Village. I remember the afternoon, cloudy and quiet, and I remember, too, almost leaving myself, the person I was, the ordinary way I felt about things, my perception of—there's no other word for it—the depth of life, and above all the thrill of successive lines. The poem was an aria, jagged and unending. Its tone was what set it apart—written as if from the shades. There lay the delta, there the burning arms… was the way it began, and immediately I felt it was not about rivers uncoiling but about desire. It revealed itself only slowly, like some kind of dream, the light fluttering on the fronds, with names and nouns, Naples, worn benches, Luxor and the kings, Salonika, small waves falling on the stones. There was repetition, even refrain. Lines that seemed unconnected gradually became part of a confession that has at its center rooms in the burning heart of August where something has taken place, clearly sexual, but it is also the vacant streets of Texas, roads, forgotten friends, the slap of hands on rifle slings, and forked pennants limp at parades. There are condoms, sun-faded cars, soiled menus with misspellings, a kind of pyre on which he had laid his life. That was why he seemed so pure—he had given his life. Everyone lies about their lives, but he had not lied about his. He had made of it a noble lament, through it always running this thing you have had, that you will always have, but can never have."

 –from Give by James Salter, partly available at the Tin House website…I need to find the rest of this.

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