After The Song

To all who donated last week during our fundraising drive, many thanks. We took the site down the last couple of days for some much-needed maintenance and switch to a new host, one which is not run by five guys named Biff in their underwear telling me the problem is that we accidentally stepped on the hamster.

You helped us do that, and for that, you have my eternal gratitude. As does the talented First Draft tech guru Jack Terminal, who in addition to being a killer bongo player and pancake flipper, is also pretty good at this Interweb thing.

Ntodd got me thinking the other night about the importance and meaning of what we do here. One of my favorite poems is by Marilyn Hacker, The Song of Liadan, about an Irish court poet who took a vow of chastity and only spoke to her love through a crack in the wall. She did so, Hacker writes, to avoid temptation.

Though it’s a gorgeous poem based on an even more gorgeous story, I’ve always thought to myself, that would never work for me. Words are temptation. Words are currency, words are blood, words are faith. Those I most admire, I know, or came to know, not through their bodies but through their words

This is a strange communion, in which we connect intimately across great distances, find each other wandering in the dark. You say things to me here that ring in my head for days; I’ll never forget commenter Debo’s story about leaving the Republican party and coming to The Light, nor Jack K’s comment on Amnesty International founder Peter Berenson’s life as “the grail, what it’s really all about.” After the election, the crack den closed down for the weekend and a lot of people came over here because we wanted to be together, even if being together reminded us of what we’d lost, even if we were so jacked up it was easy to annoy the hell out of each other, even if we really should have taken a break ourselves and gone for a walk or something. It was still better than being alone.

We speak to each other through a crack in the wall, and our words lead us into temptation, lift us up out of our cloisters, and bring us together.

As the pulled root shrieks, as

the struck stone breaks, as,

glass at a note-thrust

cracks, as

ice slivers from the sudden shard of spring;

cracked, broken, and slivered, shrieking

under the mad, sharp stars,

I shall dance, beloved,

and sing passion’s reason to the blind walls.

— Marilyn Hacker, from her book “First Cities: Collected Early Poems”

A.