This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Unimaginable Richness of their Relation

I'm going to spend the afternoon with a group of friends I don't normally see. It is common for people to know I've changed and grown since they've last seen me. Some friends of mine actually expect that to be the case. I am known for my stories of development; and that is a great thing! That is where my interest and writing intersect.

I'm looking forward to seeing how I react to and with a group of people who live out their values very differently from me. I'm hoping I will find that there are some secret pools they haven't shared with me: clean, cool, and clear; where they hold they're piles of "Yes" to the universe and aren't discouraged or disheartened, trampled or afraid. I also hope to talk sex. I love the tension that arises in young adults around the subject. You immediately know who's not getting enough and who is getting plenty, who's tickled and who really wants to change the subject.

Listening has always been my weaker point than speaking. I intend and hope to tonight engage in some meaningful conversations and learn more about these proximate friends' mechanics. I hope to write them into my own theory of beauty (acquaintances).

Theory of Beauty (Greenwich Avenue)

Thirty-seven clocks in five tiers.

Mantel, cuckoo,
rusticated, ormolu, glass-domed, moving brass balls and chimes,
porcelain, bronze-figured French:
thirty-seven, ranged in the shop window,
not especially attractive,

none fine, none precious,
even to my taste individually desirable.
But studying them, then turning away

into the end of a mild afternoon
the hand of winter's never quite let go of,

warmly tinted but almost heatless sunlight,
buildings ahead in silhouette, and then
the urge to turn back to the stepped rows

and suddenly the preeminently important thing
is their fulfillment of the category clock,

the divergence of means
of occupying that name, honoring the terms
and intent of it but nonetheless

presenting a various set of faces
to the avenue, in the warm light
of the shop. Then I or you, whoever's

doing the looking, understands
that this is the city's particular signature,

the range of possibilities within any single set,
and what is pleasing is not the individual clock

(goofy or kitsch, in their frostings and columns,
scrollworks and gildings) but the degree

to which it belongs and at the same time
pushes toward the edges of difference--

so the window's
thirty-seven branching aspects

of a single notion,
almost absurd in their essentially useless variety.
And when you turn away again,

there on the sidewalk
is a perfect instance of the category sink,

in this case kitchen,
singular instance of all its category
in the five boroughs,

a double stainless model
battered around the drain, humbled at its edges,

rim a little crumpled, but the interior
shining from a lifetime of scouring,

and beauty resides not within
individual objects but in the nearly
unimaginable richness of their relation.

-Mark Doty, from Fire to Fire

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