This morning, I am filing my Emily report from the beach in Florida. We are on the Gulf, and my meditation on the porch is accompanied by the sound of the waves rolling onto the sand. Lance had his first encounter with the sea last evening. He’s not sure what to do with it. City dog. He prefers the porch. Right now we are taking the soft breeze over the dunes. It is quiet, a couple of fishers out early. We saw pelicans coasting on an the wind. If anyone can, a pelican can . . .
# 1473, ca. 1879
We talked with each other about each other
Though neither of us spoke —
We were listening to the seconds’ Races
And the Hoofs of the Clock —
Pausing in Front of our Palsied Faces
Time compassion took —
Ark of Reprieve he offered to us —
Ararats — we took —
She suggests there is a difference between talking and speaking. That two people may outwardly appear to be communicating or at least talking, without actually speaking. There is something more dense about speaking that is absent from talking. The poem speaks to me without uttering anything out loud. I can hear the sea, receive its presence as though we are conversing, without a shared language. And Lance, you say? There is not another dog more vocal than he, yet he doesn’t say a word. He makes himself understood perfectly. Emily might say that Lance and the sea are better “speakers” specifically because they are not hampered by language.
Only humans with their sophisticated complex of symbols — the pinnacle of creation!— get lost in their own virtuosity. One word really isn’t as good as another. It matters. “June” is better than “day”. But the arrogance that arises from our own superb talent for speech does more to cripple us in the end.
I would like to write sentences that roll onto the beach like the waves. Paragraphs that break at their peak, curl forward with a decisive froth, and then descend into a smooth, flat resolution on the wet sand. That would be an interesting goal, to make speech that does not remain to admire itself, or wait for a response. Words that pull back and then roll forward, perfectly formed, yet not fixed, only perfect again.
I’ll leave you with Emily’s last remark:
#1472, c. 1879
To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie —
True Poems flee —