Monday, August 31, 2009

Edward Estlin Cummings, I Adore You

I can't remember the first time I realized
I was actually reading words on a page for myself
(and not just trusting that those black shapes
scattered below an illustration really represented
the sounds I heard my father make).

I can't remember the first time I wrote something.

A random word.
My name (the long, lyrical,
multisyllabic, Irish-Catholic Cathleen Theresa).
A note. A story. A poem. A song.

I can't remember learning to read and write,
nor when I learned to love both.
Nor when I knew I needed to do both to thrive.

Just like I can't remember learning to walk, to talk.
To breathe.

But I was sitting on a pink shag carpet
next to a four-poster canopy bed, wearing
Calvin Klein jeans and Bass penny loafers,
braces on my teeth but not my glasses
on my myopic, Maybelline-mascara'd eyes,
when I first read E. E. Cummings. 

That I remember. 

I was 14 years old and I knew I was in love.
I knew he knew every last rule
of grammar and punctuation,
but he broke them anyway.
Because breaking them made his words better.
Made the dominant right side of my brain
see, smell, taste, hear, and feel the message.
At. Just. The. Right(no, the best). Pace.

And, I remember reading the words below and
knowing I wanted everything they made me feel.

Everything they represented.

The way they made me feel empowered as a writer,
proved I could manipulate words to make them
speak for me when my voice could not.

The way they made me feel overwhelmed as a human,
hoping, dreaming, praying, wishing that one day ...
One day. Tomorrow? Next week? Next month?
Before prom? (I was 14.) Ever? (I am a girl.)
That one day I would feel about someone else
the way this ee dude felt about whomever
he was thinking of when he wrote those words.

Those words below.

In the intervening 27 years,
many words have
made me feel
many things
(so many things)
many people
(so many people).

Emotional, yes.
But not enraptured.
Not uniquely overwhelmed.

Not like 
just those words.

And not like
(finally, blessedly, eternally,
uniquely overwhelmingly)
just one man.

JRW, I adore you.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

photograph of E. E. Cummings' portable Smith-Corona, © Bernard F. Stehle
i carry your heart with me, © E. E. Cummings 1894-1962

1 comment:

  1. Stopping by from SITS! I love the poem you posted and it has me thinking of finding some sort of different reading for our upcoming wedding! Thanks for sparking my thoughts! : )


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