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Embryonic and Fossilized.

My writing room is six years of Satie and the permanence of rain-stained drywall I told myself I'd learn to repair when we bought the place for the view of mountains and horses in front of the mountains and cows nearer to us than the horses and a river even closer I can't see but hear most days when I open the window to write. The window has to be open when I write, even on the coldest days, not completely but enough to blend inside and outside. I keep meaning to change the Satie disc or at least not jones on it on repeat as is my habit and now I'm wondering if rooms are also a kind of habit. The habit of walls to be where they are, of windows and doors and curtains and space in general to maintain the nature it has until some force intervenes. There are these shows on cable about builders helping homeowners add or re-do rooms; I'm always amazed when they take sledgehammers or saws to walls and give birth to a new notion of space within the old. I don't really want to make statements like "that's what poetry does" but it's hard not to see it as both an indulgence of and intervention upon habit. Stasis and change. This room is also the pile of crap you see in the picture of my desk I've just decided to include with this piece, an honest picture because I've not removed or added anything to sculpt a particular notion of my life. That blob on the top's the hat I wear because of the aforementioned open window; it rests on a "Verse" anthology I like to read from (thank you Brian Henry/Andrew Zawacki). Leaning against my computer there's a kachina doll called Oglokil that Nicole Walker sent me. Her book "This Noisy Egg" is below the "Verse" anthology and covers a bill of some sort that I grabbed to write a note on and now realize is probably an old Verizon bill, which explains why they called this morning and asked if I understand that my phone service is about to be cut off. There are also two Chagall postcards leaning against the computer, one I think of as "my wife is a kite" and the other is Paris in blue, they're sort of held in place by this head that has four different faces, giving me the option to face a smile or flown or one face appears to be crying and I never choose to face that face. There's a section of my dictionary in the pile, I can only see "wise guy" and "wisenheimer" and "wish"--the wise guy wishes he were a wisenheimer--and some National Geographics and printouts from the web on Anne Frank and bird nests (did you know it's illegal to possess a wild bird or nest or egg of any kind for any reason, even to save the bird? I ask to aid you in your lawabidingness). To the side, on one of the desk's pull-out shelves, is what I've just discovered (thank you Google) is called a fishing clamp, which consists of a metal base that supports a magnifying glass and two clamps that are basically roach clips to hold the flies that fly fishers tie. Sometimes in the same space there's a chunk of jaw I found in one of our crawl spaces that looks human (the jaw, not the crawl space) or a sextant and it's the sometimesness I'm interested in here. Stasis and change. There's almost always a mess but the nature of that mess changes as what I'm interested in changes and leaves a record of its existence, a kind of loam that essentially thickens my life by giving me the chance to reach into that pile for the Satie liner notes and read that track 21 is one minute and forty-four seconds long and the third part of "Pieces froides" played by Anne Queffelec, a Canadian, I believe, whose lips on the back of the notes are fire-hydrant red. That's usually fire engine, isn't it? Fire hydrant is uncomfortable in this context, given the relationship between dogs and fire hydrants, which is nothing I want associated with Anne Queffelec's lips. I reach into the pile and connect with something and how I connect with it changes me and what I want, which in turn changes the nature of the pile because now the liner notes are on top and because they're on top, I'm reminded to work on my French (Oeuvres pour piano), which means I leave this little moment a different person. This morphing is what happens for me when I write, the starting with a phrase or emotion or image that leads to an unfolding that is such a mix of habit and surprise, I can't help but conclude that one of the primary drives behind art is appreciation, the desire to understand the value of what occupies our lives by finding ways to give it a new existence. It's not as if I'm going to wake one day with seven hands or protoplasmic teeth or the ability to levitate. I'm mostly fixed except in ways that are mostly uncomfortable and have mostly to do with decay, but writing not only allows but requires that the given, the status quo, evolves. Stasis and change, death and birth: the simplicity and force of this pairing in what I do, what we do, never ceases to please me. The only purpose of this room is the writing of poems. That's all I do here. The luck of this is astounding, to have a place where I ask myself to make myself ever more manifest, to know more and feel more and see more, a place that is somehow simultaneously embryonic and fossilized, where I am constantly making a mess of order and pushing order to the brink of mess. In a month or year this pile will be different, and the mountain, though certainly a constant, will have appeared to be many different mountains in its moods of trees and clouds and snow and light, and I suspect Satie's about to give way to some Bach masses, since I was moved by the bit of one I heard the other day while watching an MRI scan on TV of Oliver Sacks's brain as he listened to what he found quite emotional. And I will rise at six to make coffee and a pbj rice cake and sit in my black chair and expect myself to surprise myself, and will some and won't some, and the next day, will some and won't some again.


BOB HICOK'S newest book is Words for Empty and Words for Full (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010).
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Title Annotation:In the Studio
Author:Hicok, Bob
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Literary essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2010
Previous Article:from Book of Hours.
Next Article:Fracture.

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