Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

permission -

Jane sends this to me today.

"Instead of a poem today...this from the Post...it is so close to what I imagine being able to get to in my writing, someday...... it is my intention."

I read this, and know I need to read the poems of Linda Gregg. What she says, I want one day, also, to say, and maybe her saying it is enough.



Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, February 19, 2006;

"Poetry is a Destructive Force." That sentence is the title of a poem by Wallace Stevens, meaning among other things that poetry breaks and devours comforting sentiments, soothing language, elevated humbug, wishful thinking. It re-imagines in language what we are used to. It presents anew what we thought or meant to say or expected to see a moment before encountering the poem. Stevens imagines poetry as a lion, "a violent beast."

The violence is figurative, not the literal splash and crash of special effects. It menaces or devours not flesh and blood but cozy preconceptions. In keeping with that consuming force, here is a poem from Linda Gregg's new book:


The woman walks up the mountain

and then down. She wades into the sea

and out. Walks to the well,

pulls up a bucket of water

and goes back into the house.

She hangs wet clothes.

Takes clothes back to fold them.

Every evening she crochets

from six until dark.

Birds, flowers, stars. Her rabbit lives

in an empty donkey pen. The sea is out

there as far as the stars.

Always quiet.

No one there. She may not believe

in anything. Not know

what she is doing. Every morning

she waters the geranium plant.

And the leaves smell like lemons.

Specific realities like the rabbit in an empty donkey pen have a shorn quiddity beyond philosophizing. To quote another Stevens title, her image invokes not ideas about the thing but the thing itself. The leaves smell like lemons, "and that was all" -- a phrase that concludes Robert Frost's great poem "The Most of It," on a similar subject, the idea of pure being, perception without preconception.

Here is another poem by Gregg on that theme:

The Otherness

Of course there is the otherness,

right away inside you when

the doe steps carefully down

the embankment. Then clatter

of hoof and the dappled water

with leaf shade. The otherness

and the invisible until you came.

Here the jabber of consciousness is changed by perceiving something out of the ordinary. The otherness of the natural tableau is "right away inside you": The poem notes the parts of that setting: the hoof, its clatter, the dappled water, the leaf shade. And that naming of parts makes the scene alive, inside the poet, the thing that was invisible before she came to apprehend it and -- in the words of Stevens's poem about the destructive lion -- "feel it breathing there."

(Linda Gregg's poems "Being" and "The Otherness" are from her book

"In the Middle Distance."

Graywolf Press.

Copyright © 2006 by Linda Gregg.)

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