Explain… that you live in a blur
Of hours and days, months and years, and believe
It has meaning, despite the occasional fear
You are slipping away with nothing completed, nothing
To prove you existed.
~ Mark Strand
Those dark, contemplative words are excerpted from Mark Strand’s poem “The Continuous Life” (The Continuous Life, Knopf, 1991). I include them here to admit they resonate, not every day, but sometimes. Despite my pollyanna mission to discover and create the best in this midlife transition, there are dark, contemplative stretches. Discouraging stretches. Strand was an adept explorer of such nadirs. I tend to rely on a more playful, more perplexed perspective, but I’m grateful for his clarity and candor.
Late last year I typed my way through discovering that Strand had passed away. I opened the blog post with these words from the poet.
I usually have no idea what I will say before I begin to write… I write to find out what I have to say… ~ Mark Strand
I find Strand’s literary humility and honesty exceedingly appealing. And – like many writers, I suspect – this process of searching, probing (and sometimes discovering) is often my own. Not always. Sometimes I know what I want to say. Or I think I do. Rarely are my initial assumptions accurate. Or worth listening to. But they get me started, and that is plenty.
This is likewise true with the visual “poems” and vignettes I’ve been including in this project. I play with images to find out why they capture my attention. I “listen” with my eyes, try to find out what I have to see, have to show. By stripping away the sensuous, seductive distraction of color I am able to search the textures and the contours. Both beckon me deeper into the image. I’m searching for something. An answer. Or, more often, a question. Perhaps, though I strain to admit it, I’m searching for meaning, for proof that I exist despite the fear that life is slipping away with too little of value completed. Thank you, Mark Strand, for doing the heavy lifting!
- Mark Strand: What I Have to Say (virtualdavis.com)