Keepsake, Keep Safe, My Keeper

Poets are the slaves of silence, a sluttish silence that wants it all—forfeit of heart, mind, body, soul—as barter for germinating words, words that come out of a long hibernation during which their roots roost, nest. Keep an ear pressed to ground, one poet taught me and hence I have learned to listen to earth—a fallen earth, a Sisyphean earth, a gorgeous half-devoured earth whose ruins are the poet’s riches.

Gutted and glutted by silence, I court it morning, noon and night, my around the lock love affair that dizzies me as much now as it did back when I was young, so very young that any kind of seduction was heady for me and I longed for it, craved it, begged it to be my addiction.

The poetic word is a drug for me—silence slurs into speech till poems build themselves like pyramids, foundations laid by the concrete, thus giving language weighty girth. Out of this earthy girth there rises song, but hidden in all that soaring beauty is sarcophagus, creation as cremation, a petit mal and a labor pain at once.

Prisoners then, poets are prisoners, each line a ball and chain, the mind a kind of concentration camp where we are the kept, the guarded, thrust voluntarily into solitary confinement which is, at times, a solitary hell. In the hole, is what it’s called in jail, one is isolated from all others, put away as a threat to mankind. Or, perhaps, it can be seen as Alice’s rabbit hole, a tumble into Wonderland where poets become gifted illusionists pulling doves out of nothingness.

When all is said and done, when the work of a day becomes as hard as the work of a lifetime, I’m left with both fruit and decay which is what each poem harvests. May I always be a wayward woman, lover of wayward poems, giving it all away for free in the name of free verse where everything must be earned, where, if I’m lucky enough, a poem or two might become a keepsake kept safe by my Muse, my keeper.

Filed under: Elizabeth Kirschner, Prose