“… all I was doing really was I had shit to get off my chest…” – Sinead O’Connor
I have been in limbo for far too long. Notebooks and pieces of paper fluttered around this writing space for far too long. Like Sinead, I have shit to get out of my way. This continuous fuelling, fluttering of thoughts. The avoidance to write, to plunge into thoughts and words. My own and that of others. In this liminal strange time, my thoughts failed to take flight. Lived like the little worms that swim before our eyes.
This week I stopped languishing in Corona inertia. I took the plunge and lit a literal fire. A bonfire of memories, old notes, silly pieces of paper taking up space on my desk and in my mind. What a purging experience it turned out to be.
I looked as old birthday and anniversary cards, letters and photos of things long past and better out of the way, burnt to ashes. As the first flames licked around an old program of a stage production of War and Peace and Uncle Vanya nearly 40 years ago, an etheral peace came over me.
Burn, baby burn. Clear out some space for now. The door to yesterday is closed. Hope lies before us.
Among the papers I found this amazing piece of writing by Jack Gilbert. So apt for the reality of now. I had to share.
A Brief for the Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
From Collected Poems by Jack Gilbert. Copyright © 2012 by Jack Gilbert.