Quoting Blake to Mother
If I’m told to remove an epigraph from a poem, to let it stand on its own, I hear John Donne whispering in my ear, telling me a sermon about the beauty of echoes, and how our words bouncing through the hollows they travel in a landscape return to us enriched. I see a repetition of doors diminishing in size, until the smallest is one only my cat can slip through and return purring, an engine amplified to a voice saying someone said that someone said this before, in a fashion that means something like this but not this: for this is a pool, not a lake, that is a cairn but not a mountain, a mound high as the mellifluous clouds cluttered with birds hidden in their creases, and then released like a downpour. A refreshment to which someone else says, “why keep those birds there? Why let them hang in the drifting whiteness when there’s nowhere to perch?” But I remember quoting Blake to Mother because she was crying, told her what Blake said about tears becoming infants in eternity and her smiling, because the quote soothed the raging waters and connected us by collapsing history into the single light of his words, and other words like them warm us in the knitted fabrics of their stories and language, scarves we can hold onto and follow all the way back to Herodotus and Hesiod and Solomon and David, their cadences dressing us against the darkness and the cold, their words assuring with an embrace, like a loving uncle who slips a coin in our pocket as we leave, so we have enough to pay for the long passage of just how far we’ve come.
Michael T. Young