Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaBloPoMo Day 1: Starting

I did this last year and I don't know if I'll have the time or the wherewithal to do it this year, but it was a good exercise in consistency and discipline and I learned a lot. I'm not sure I have a lot to say right now, due in part to high (but falling) levels of dissatisfaction with my life, but I'll try. Maybe what I'll try is things that have shaped me, things from my past, things I'm historically connected to. I don't know. I'll give it a try.

Today I give you a poem by an author who I admire a great deal: Dr. Joe Survant. He is a professor of English at Western Kentucky University, my Alma mater. He is widely published, the Kentucky Poet Laureate, and a thoroughly remarkable writer and teacher. He deeply shaped how I read and how I write in the one class I took with him, Literature of the Modern Western World, part of the freshman Humanities semester I took.

I like this concrete image of an abstract concept. Dr. Survant's gift as a teacher is illustrating very abstract ideas, things that aren't clear, sometimes, even to him, I think, as something very real and...stone-like, if you will.

The Stone
By Joe Survant

When you were born a tall handsome woman with the
slenderest of fingers gave you back your stone. She placed
it on your tongue like an aspirin and held your mouth shut
and stroked your throat until you had to swallow. The
stone is smooth, shaped and pressed by the weight of all
the world's waters, rolled by the journeys of all the world's
rivers to the sea. Inside you it becomes a perfect sphere the
size of a pea. A thin layer of cells coats it so that you can
carry it all your life like a shark carries souvenirs from all its

When you are ready to die the woman will come again.
She will still be handsome and her fingers will still be sharp.
With incredible ease, and drawing very little blood, she will
reach through your side and pluck out the stone, now big
as a cherry. It has absorbed all your days and nights which
give it the color of pale blood. It is your stone, but she will
keep it for you. When she swallows the stone your heart
will burst. When you are ready to try again, she will come
to you. She will put the stone on your tongue and hold your
mouth and stroke and stroke your throat. It will be harder
to swallow. You will always wish for a smaller stone.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Crap. I was going to do this this year, and then I just realized that it's already Nov. 3. Okay, this parenting thing is kicking my ass. Looking forward to reading you daily, or at least daily-ish.