Archival Features, Poems

Broc Rossell: “It becomes necessary to live”

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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

Author photoBroc 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)