Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Rene Char and the Snow  

This morning I have been reading Rene Char's "LEAVES OF HYPNOS," translated by Cid Corman, and thinking of a sentence from Char: "Here we are approaching the second when death is most violent and life best defined"; and a conversation I had with urban historian and poet Fran Ryan about Corman and the big subjects/topics (whatever you want to call them): getting by, writing, living with purpose.

Fran said he hadn't written to Cid in sometime and had been thinking about him since his death and wished he had written to Cid one last time to let him know how important he was to Fran at a certain time in his life when he felt utterly unconnected to his immediate world (working class tough Philadelphia, "the neighborhood" as he puts it with as much meaning as one could pack into a phrase) and found Cid and poetry -- and that got him through a most difficult period -- and connected him to another place of possibility: ideas and people.

I told Fran to write Cid the letter anyway.

Here are two sections from Char's poem:


The poet, conserver of the infinite faces of the living.


They used to give names to the different portions of duration: this was a day, that a month, this empty church a year. Here we are approaching the second when death is most violent and life best defined.

This morning I think of Fran and Cid and Char's "conserver of the infinite faces of the living" in the corn flake-sized snow flakes falling in at least eight confused directions perhaps trying to escape this late March day; and I think how to know Fran's serious face and still body exactly last evening is to conserve (for a moment) one of those infinite faces.

Here another face emerges, the gray face and hard body of late Gil Ott in the hospital and me and CAConrad moving all of his get well cards, kid drawings, and hand-made paper books (about 100 in all, not enough thumb tacks for them all) from one hospital room, floor, building to another; and Conrad asking the doctor if he knew that Gil was an esteemed poet? The doctor saying, stuttering for a moment: no, but taking a greater interest (at least for the moment) saying he'd look him up online, and I collecting/stealing thumb tacks from other empty stick pin boards, in the halls and rooms, and a few that were not.


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