Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Long Sentence

I'm reading CK Williams' collection Repair this morning. Here's one:


Even when the rain falls relatively hard,
only one leaf at a time of the little tree
you planted on the balcony last year,
then another leaf at its time, and one more,
is set trembling by the constant droplets,

but the rain, the clouds flocked over the city,
you at the piano inside, your hesitant music
mingling with the din of the downpour,
the gush of rivulets loosed from the eaves,
the iron railings and flowing gutters,

all of it fuses in me with such intensity
that I can't help wondering why my longing
to live forever has so abated that it hardly
comes to me anymore, and never as it did,
as regret for what I might not live to live,

but rather as a layering of instants like this,
transient as the mist drawn from the rooftops,
yet emphatic as any note of the nocturne
you practice, and, the storm faltering, fading
into its own radiant passing, you practice again.

I can't argue with that. Not with the opening image of the individual leaves set trembling by the rain. Not with the flocks of clouds. Not with the movement toward and into the reality of the third stanza and the speaker's realization that living forever would not, ultimately, be about living every moment possible, but about the lengthening of individual, otherwise-transient moments into eternity. And not with the spinning out of the single, extended sentence of the poem, its individual moments becoming, in sum, its own eternity.

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