Here’s something I would love to know.
There are certain facts, songs, poems, and moments that live so vividly in my mind that in the down times – when there’s not much happening directly in front of me, when my mind isn’t overrun with worry or emotion – I find myself simply revisiting them. It’s like I’m checking to make sure they’re still there, that I still know them, as they drift through, occasionally pausing to say hello. It’s a bit like the background music that plays in a dentist’s office: completely easy to ignore until I suddenly tune into it, and then it’s all I can hear.
What has fallen into that category and taken up residence over the years is completely random, as far as I can tell. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, for example; ¾ of all dust is human skin (not sure that one is accurate, but my brain is loyal to it all the same). Sometimes it’s a line from an Indigo Girls song – I could go crazy on a night like tonight, when summer’s beginning to give up her fight – or the chorus of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” (Oh jeez, I just pulled the video up on YouTube and it was the best part of my day so far, by far. Please give yourself the same gift.)
There are, occasionally, seasonal overtones to that which fills my head; the weeks leading up to New Year’s are full of “Silent Night” while the warmer months can welcome in “Summertime,” either the Ella Fitzgerald version or the totally different tune by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. A few precious things – like Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese – are likely to go on repeat, all the time, any time of the year.
And what I wonder is, does this happen for other people? Do we all walk around with our personal soundtracks, our own theme songs, the narration of poems coming through in voices we don’t quite recognize as our own?
I like to think so. If that’s the case, doesn’t it seem like the world just got a little sweeter?
Regardless, the words that have been drifting in and out of my head for the last few days come from a poem by e.e. cummings, one that I started to love a long time ago and have never really stopped adoring. Because it’s good to read poetry on a Monday, I thought I’d include it here. Maybe it’ll start a casual drift through your mind, a wander that reminds you of the power of words, the permanence of art, the delight of the things that stay with us through time and space and life. Perhaps it will grant the possibility that strangers walk next to you, as strangers walk next to me, all doing the exact same thing, even though we never say a word about it.
somewhere I have never
by e.e. cummings
somewhere I have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal as Spring opens
(touching skillfully,mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands