“Poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don’t know you know.”
~ Adrienne Rich
I’ve been standing at an edge of an epiphany.
I almost taste the moment of surprise, like the way a raspberry seed lingers in our mouth after we’ve eaten the fruit. We accidentally bite on the seed, suddenly the sensation of bitter sweetness returns.
An aftertaste of past epiphanies reminds me of the edge.
Epiphanies are orgasmic; and, yes an orgasm can be an epiphany.
Yet I’m not talking about that edge.
It’s more like that bubbling awareness under my toes that there is some thing coming together, but I’m not sure what that thing is right now. I feel the possibilities, but…
I admit it; I’m still stuck: no words, just that anticipation of the unknown.
So I put down my pen, and go looking for ways to tickle that epiphany out of me. Yes, tickle. Why not? Maybe the epiphany just needs an absolutely absurd joke, but nothing from the land of digital.
Today I left my trusty computer, and biked to the library. Meandering through the stacks, I paused in front of the poetry section.
I reread my favorite poetry—poems by Gary Snyder, Jane Hirschfield and Audre Lorde (The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance).
As poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “Poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don’t know you know.”
I’ve subconsciously written poems (and fiction) that has surprisingly come to share what I didn’t know that I knew. I suppose that’s why I return to the great poets when I am at a loss for words.
I thought for sure my epiphany might arrive here among the pages of these writers, but not today.
Being at the edge of an epiphany is kind of like waiting for that orgasm to arrive, but it doesn’t, so you’re left frustrated and wanting more.
I thought poetry might soothe me, give an insight into this edge, but it didn’t, so I returned home to my pile of poetry, looking for what I already knew in my own words.
I sat in the afternoon sunlight, reading through my poems written since my return to northern California almost two years ago. The words tell of my landing in the valley, then our move to coast, and then the surprising move back to the valley—a ping-pong based upon livelihoods.
I look back at my long strange trip, and I am finally settled.
Exhausted, but finally landed.
I could lie, say that is my epiphany—to realize that I am finally settled—but it’s not. That’s too trivial.
Certainly, I feel more clarity about my path, but I’m still standing at that edge of an epiphany.
I did find one poem as a bit of an insight for being at my edge—perhaps it shall provoke an epiphany for you, which could then be my epiphany, so I can quit looking for one (right?).
I wrote the poem a little over a year ago (on New Year’s Eve 2012/2013) when we lived in a home with an ocean view at the northern edge of the village where we had our first son. (We moved to the East almost a year after his birth, so it was a blessing to return 12 years later to where we began.)
In the end, the return journey to our beginning place proved to be very trying on many levels, so I wrote a poem called “O”:
“i let go”
scrawling cursive letters in black ink
along my heart line,
so each time i open my palm
i can pause,
find the rhythm of letting go.
at first, it is gasping for air
like a swimmer after a 400-meter race,
then my breath becomes more like
the splash of a pebble tossed into a pond,
ripples smooth into still waters
before skipping another pebble.
only for so long,
do we hover,
balancing our breaths in salty stillness,
as i watch
a fisherwoman guiding her boat North
through white caps towards the harbor as a storm blows in
tasting salt in the wind
as for me,
i lean against the kitchen sink
washing ceramic mug in soapy water,
staring out at the ocean’s horizon,
wondering about the edge
on those clear days
when the horizon appears as a perfect line
without ridges, no rough edges
just one smooth infinite line,
unlike the ones on my dish pan hands
that i dry off, so
only the “o” remains
from the words
“i let go,”
scrawled along my heart line.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo Credit: Freda Nichols/Pixoto