Thursday, December 21, 2006

Back to the beginning?

I find that in poems, as in life, I like things tied up neatly. This, I suspect, is not a promising admission—that I want to understand everything (in a poem, I want to see it, too) and that I want it to circle back to the beginning. Not really a circle, but a spiral that ends at the same place but on a different plane.

Is it a need for closure, as though we ever really get that? Is it a desire to feel "smart enough" (I get it) and maybe a little more enlightened for having read it? I like that circle, that spiral. Maybe for the planning. A piece that comes back to its own beginning sounds well thought out. Someone was thinking even while he or she was feeling and writing and revising.

It's a desire. I see it in other poems. I tried to think of one of my own that I could use as an example, and then I wasn't able to come up with one. No representative of the ideal.

But then I suspect that—in my own efforts, at least—this could also be a form of self-repression, this desire for the neat knot, the closed loop. What if instead the poem ends with a springboard to someplace else entirely? And for some reason, I have an image of hair spread across a pillow, wild.

It's that wild woman that I'm afraid I'm missing, silencing. And if a large part of poetry is digging deeper into the inner self, then it may also be about finding, recognizing, freeing that wildness—the force that rejects the circle or even the careful spiral and instead plunges willingly into the vortex only to be sucked into some new place.

What does that look like on paper? And can you have both? Can you circle back while you're venturing forth?

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