Sunday, December 1, 2013

Nicelle Davis: It's an Entirely Human Sort of Thing—Poetry

Lately, I have been breaking all my dishes. I’ve been inviting friends to break them with me. I even let my five-year old son toss a plate down some concrete stairs. I’m convinced this is poetry—that the sound of contact—of opening—is the music of being.

Like poetry, you have to do it (be it) to understand. So here, go ahead. Try it. Even if the throw happens entirely in your head—please!—try it:

Here is the plate, the cup, the bowl, you choose. Here. The implications of its blank surface—smooth in your hands—the meal that was and wasn’t—the story that was and never will be. Now release it. Your dish becomes a bird—it sings like a bell when it hits—the ground is scattered with shark-toothed fragments. You are dry underwater. You are what shouldn’t be. You are stepping between pieces of wholeness.

You feel ridiculous; it is so serious. You are laughing. You are crying. You are letting go.  Great poetry can't happen without some level of letting go. You must unclench your fists, your life, your eyes, your legs for a moment and let it swing out into the open air not really knowing how it all ends.  It's the lack of knowing that means you have—gasp—stepped away from the prescribed narrative. Your hand twinges slightly from the shallow cuts. You see how beneath the skin, a red garden is blooming. Between the internal and external—between release and shattering—is poetry.

Poetry, for me, is the art of carving out the betwixt of existence—it is the moment of conversion, that quick intake of breath when dreams enter into reality. It is never pretty. No. It is quite awkward; the product never matches the intention. But there is a magic in the effort—and by magic I mean a hope that we can pull our dreams into reality. The poem evokes an infinite vastness, the motions of raw potential, the possibility of transcendence. It is more than words on a page; it is the plate breaking.