If you’re looking to build a house, a hammer is an indispensable tool. But it is not the only tool you’ll need. To build a house, you’ll need a large array of tools and materials. To insist that a hammer, and only a hammer, is the sort of tool you need to build a house is, at best, impractical. It may also be delusional.
Ours is a world of stilted prosody, flat and banal, the flourish of ad copy, the etymology of the focus group. It is speech calculated to intended effect, never deeper than the sheen, no wiser than the fortune cookie paper slip. It’s a monotone babble, furiously expounding the nothingness that fills that wasteland of spinning static, born of an ersatz orchestra of twittering chatter.
But we are made for much more.
In a mystery, we come to this at times when we are hollowed out by pain and loss, the trauma that raises that terrible tonicity, the deepening of the heart in lament. Our mundane routine shifts, that sudden departure from the expected, the wrench that shreds us from within. Suddenly what was, is gone, its fading imprint turning us inside out. And the identity which shaped us is shattered at the leaving. We are torn, the grasp on ourselves loosened. We turn, looking for the poles.
We cannot speak of it. The quotidian vocabulary no longer satisfies. We are dumb, mute before the monstrosity which our world has become.
In that confrontation, sorrow stretches the soul into poetry. We are given the unexpected meter and rhyme of tears and heartache. New words are shaped, and we name again the things around us. Including ourselves.
Trauma and loss are a sort of soul amnesia, the forgetting of the self that once was. The stanzas which are written by tears, however, call out from the shadows the one we have been and are becoming.
It is through sorrow’s lament, that keening of the soul, that the self remembers whence it came, remembers and burns in that ache and that agony of loss.
In that piecing together of the self from the broken shards amid the ashes, there is a poetry that shakes and shapes, at once terrifying and comforting. There I am, but who am I now?
We come to ourselves again, in these bits and pieces, glued together by compassionate embrace, the loving exhalation, inarticulate and fecund of meaning. The breath trembles with the vibration of new harmony, the melody of a minor key, a refrain different but the same.
We are no longer, yet still we are. New and fantastic, unknown to ourselves, yet known from the foundation of the world. Poetry creatures in a prosaic world, we are misshapen and misnamed, but still anchored in the love which was ours, given and received, while being born in this strange new moment.
But ever the ache. Hearts broken and not fully to be mended in this life. Stuck in between until that reunion of lovers and loved. Now singing, ever singing, in minor key, but lovely and beautiful.