This poem came out of a few different impulses…at the time I wrote it I was reading Levinas and Maurice Merleau-Ponty: thinking about the ways in which responsibility and love are inextricable and limitless, and how the only way the external world doesn’t completely overwhelm me is by virtue of the fact that I can ingest it with my eyes. There’s also a strong elegiac streak in here. I lost my best friend when I was twenty, and while that is literally half a lifetime ago today, I don’t think those losses ever leave… I wrote him a number of short poems describing the ways my life was now different than it was, like being able to pay rent (when I last saw him we lived in his car), and one of those short poems made it in here. Visually, the central image of the yellow dress is a portmanteau of a few lines from an album he and I used to listen to. In the end, however, I’m not sure if the poem is more weft than weave…if it succeeds at all, it’s because I was able to escape those concerns (and myself) for a minute.
It becomes necessary to live
It becomes necessary to live in ways
Which if impossible
Are predicated on that definition
And therefore open
The same way I am open to what’s
Nested in the white tree
Molecular in cadence
A home in the home I imbricate with noise
Elements critique me with division
A yellow dress in the grass
Tempts me to soliloquy
Burns and turns to ash in the my mouth that holds it
With numbers or notes
Peals of pears like
Rain on the summer months in May
There is no body to suffer
No university to pay my fee
To flip with a fork the meat in the pan
This emptiness of matter
Broc Rossell is from California and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he teaches creative writing, literature, and courses in culture and theory for the English and Humanities departments at Simon Fraser University. His first book, Festival, is forthcoming this spring from CSU.
This poem appeared originally in the Winter & Spring 2015 issue of Poetry Northwest.
photo credit: illustration from black and white tree via photopin (license)