Saturday, July 16, 2011


We say there must be more — more to this world than we think,
or dream, or are able to perceive. Then we prove it with our imaginations.

When I was growing up, my father taught me a day didn’t start
until I’d splashed cold water on my face.

I had my doubts at first, but soon enough
I found the method worked.

It still does. And now I see us at the washtub by the mirror,
pleased with who we were, and all we were imagining.

But is there more? Or am I, perhaps,
the more that he was seeking?

My guess can only be imagined. We have the mirror;
I wonder what it thinks when we’re not there.


Anthony Duce said...

Enjoyed. I have conversations like this with the mirror who watches me each morning too.

Jhon Baker said...

solid image and right on, good write.

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Anthony. I find it quiet, patient, and with an amazing sense of humor.

Deeply appreciated, Jhon. Thank you.

Joseph Hutchison said...

"Am I, perhaps, / the more that he was seeking?"

Yes and no, maybe. At least in my case. My father was proud of my books but never read any, until a cousin of mine, also a poet, discovered during a brief visit that neither of my parents had read my poems. She dragged out a couple of my books and read selections. She says they were impressed but—well‚bemused. If it was me they were seeking, they didn't know it, and didn't know what to do with what they'd found....

William Michaelian said...

Joe, at this very moment, there’s a little girl down the street calling out, “’bye, Daddy, ’bye!” in the sweetest tone imaginable.... And I hear no answer.

Ultimately strangers, ultimately alone.

Sublimely so.

In a letter to my mother during the war (because there has been, and ever is, only one war), my father said, “All I want to do when I get home is put a fence around the place and raise grapes and kids.”

I wrote a poem in high school called “Dear Father.” I showed it to my mother. She showed it to my father. She told me later that when he read it, he cried.

Both are gone now.

I don’t know if we ever know what we’re seeking. Sometimes we know what we think we’re seeking. There are, at the same time, plenty of well-meaning folks, some of them even wise, who will tell us what we’re seeking. That we must be seeking is a religion to them.

There is no resolution. If there were, there would likely be no poetry, at least in the generally limited way that we conceive it.

Your cousin’s reading, and her need to read, no doubt meant more to your parents than your poems themselves. And really, that was the validation that they needed. Like everything we write, we ourselves are open to interpretation, each according to each other’s needs.

That’s why your comment here is precious to me.

Two Tigers said...

William, I think the key is to embrace that yearning for "more" while still being happy with what we already have and know, and keep the two in perfect balance. Err too much either way and you risk being on the one hand blind to your blessings, and on the other hand, blinded BY them. As for the absence of resolution in life - you're right, from that void comes poetry. And the best poetry never seeks to fill that void, but perhaps only throw some light on it, and see that the void is far bigger but also far less scary then we ever imagined. And full of such good friends. Thank you for this post, my friend.

William Michaelian said...

And I thank you, Gabriella, for bringing that much more to it — for making it more, and giving it more. I agree, this yearning and need to imagine, it seems, is part and parcel of our very being. No wonder we suffer so and are capable of creating such misery when they are thwarted. All too often, instead of freely adding to ourselves and our idea of what the world is and what it might be, we limit and subtract — in order to survive (we think), and to fit in (as if being generic were an acceptable price to pay). Personally, I think the void is beautiful. I am grateful for the void, not threatened by it. The void brings me howling to its edge, tempted by its depth and darkness. And already here again, we are going beyond what I wrote and what we’ve so far said, making more of it yet again. You must be a friend. You’re willing to listen.

Two Tigers said...

Thinking of you admiring and grateful at the edge of the void reminded me of these lines by Peter de Vries in "Reuben, Reuben" -

Come let us spread a picnic on the precipice
Eat, drink and be merry with our backs to the abyss
Till in that dusk, where bats cannot be told from swallows, gifts from threats,
They'll banish solemn songs like this

Which I never quite thought of as a solemn song. And always wondered - why turn your back?

William Michaelian said...

As I was wondering as I read it, only to find your question at the end.

Then again, who knows what the void does when we aren’t looking?

Or, for that matter, even when we are?

I think of a child hiding in the middle of a room by covering his eyes.