Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I've been thinking about the anechoic chamber in Minnesota, a room that cancels out nearly every single bit of external sound. You can't be in it for very long without needing to sit, because we orient ourselves in the world by the sounds around us. Without the cues that tell you how to balance and maneuver all you can hear is the inside of your own body, and you become too disoriented to stand. After 45 minutes in the room, you'll go mad. We can't hear only ourselves for very long; the world only makes sense when we can filter out our own most important noises from the cacophony. When the choices are larger than only one of us.

I've been thinking about when Adrienne Rich wrote "Tonight I think/no poetry/will serve" just in between lines about feelings and then lines about precision. I've been thinking about the overwhelming gurgle of our own lungs and eyes like poets sore from the sun, and how it all misses just when it could save everything, about the sharpest sweetness just past all of the words.

We sat in the sun this weekend, warming our bones and petting dogs and grilling, opening rooftop barbecue season in sundresses and spring pastels and ill-advised novelty drinks. I've been thinking about when Frank O'Hara wrote, "Now I am quietly waiting for/the catastrophe of my personality/to seem beautiful again,/and interesting, and modern." and how he was a man widely known for his warmth and passion. I've been thinking about the noises we might contain if we could find a room that canceled out the sound of our hearts and our lungs.

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