I’ve been thinking about change, mostly because I’ve been stunned recently about how so little that I would like to change or have changed is changing or being changed. So much remains the same. But change slips in sometimes. Change isn’t always announced, like God arriving on the scene and booting Adam and Eve from the Garden. Which reminded me of this poem by Anne Marie Macari.
Light was being, held by her own hands or
touched like water burning bare skin.
In the beginning meant learning to see: a thousand
kinds of green, the vine-crawl along rocks,
the groping mouths of flowers. In the beginning
all they knew was yes, so when the first no
settled quietly around the tree
they thought it birdsong, it took days or weeks
for them to even notice its echo
in the leaves, an absence really, the start of loss.
Later, when the suffering began, who could
she turn to and say: I didn’t ask to be born,
squatting, the light separate and cold, distant
as God, and she, already, refusing to kneel.
What revolution is playing out in the tight little container of this poem, the chamber of a reverse sonnet, already a revolution of sorts. The volta’s “settled quietly around the tree” is a deceptive environment for what is unfolding; “the first no” setting up the turning point of the first struggle, the break in rhythms emphasizing the disturbance in the universe happening here, and “the start of loss.” Internal rhymes keep the poem tight, intact: light, like, vine, quietly; her, water, learning; kneel, tree, see; thousand, mouths, flowers. The knell-like no and echo as anchors. Light burns but touches like water; birdsong is a harsh message. The narrator is disillusioned, confused, defiant. Against the sudden, inexplicable punishment, the suffering, the creation pushes back, angry: “I didn’t ask to be born” — a statement every defiant and angry teen has uttered or thought. But this first creation had no one to say it to. The naysaying God had distanced itself. But there’s a sort of you-can’t-fire-me-I-quit quality here. She does not bow down. And she does not forget. In remembering what she had (“a thousand kinds of green…the groping mouths of flowers”) she prepares herself to claim her right to it again, to find it in her own way. The first line of the final couplet clicks with angry t’s: squatting, light, separate, distant. Here is the repercussion of the creator’s refusal. Here is liberty and the cost of the struggle. In the end: the hope and freedom that can come with defiance and the shedding of a child-like dependence. She refuses to kneel. In the end, the woman squats, in the manner of voiding; in the manner of birthing. Now, everything changes.
Yea, okay, so what I already know but choose constantly to forget is that change comes from within. Gaddammit.
On another matter, I have some poems in the ever-diverting Right Hand Pointing: