Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Creative Inspiration: A Space in the Air

I was going to link you to one of my favorite poems, and I couldn't find it on the Internet. I have gotten so used to thinking the Internet has everything ...

But you shouldn't miss this, just because the Web has. It's not a short poem, but it is a quick read. And it's beautiful. (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to replicate here the imaginative spacing Jon Silken created -- he had varying indents on each line.)

A Space in the Air
by Jon Silken

The first day he had gone
I barely missed him. I was glad almost he had left
Without a bark or flick of his tail,
I was content he had slipped

Out into the world. I felt,
Without remarking, it was nearly a relief
From his dirty habits. Then, the second
Day I noticed the space

He left behind him. A hole
Cut out of the air. And I missed him suddenly,
Missed him almost without knowing
Why it was so. And I grew

Afraid he was dead, expecting death
As something I had grown used to. I was afraid
The clumsy children in the street
Had cut his tail off as

A souvenir of the living and
I did not know what to do. I was fearing
Somebody had hurt him. I called his name
But the hole in the air remained.

I have grown accustomed to death
Lately. But his absence made me sad,
I do not know how he should do it
But his absence frightened me.

It was not only his death I feared,
Not only his but as if all of those
I loved, as if all those near me
Should suddenly go

Into the hole in the light
And disappear. As if all of them should go
Without barking, without speaking,
Without noticing me there

But go; and going as if
The instrument of pain were a casual thing
To suffer, as if they should suffer so,
Casually and without greatness,

Without purpose even. But just go.
I should be afraid to lose all those friends like this.
I should fear to lose those loves. But mostly
I should fear to lose you.

If you should go
Without affliction, but even so, I should tear
The rent you would make in the air
And the bare howling

Streaming after your naked hair.
I should feel your going down more than my going down.
My own death I bear everyday
More or less

But your death would be something else,
Something else beyond me. It would not be
Your death or my death, love,
But our rose-linked dissolution.

So I feared his going,
His death, not our death, but a hint at our death. And I shall always fear
The death of those we love as
The hint of your death, love.


Linda said...

Thank you for posting this - I've been searching for this poem for almost 20 years, and could only remember "space in the air."
Thank you-thank you!!

Jan said...

I'm so glad you found it! It's a wonderful poem -- I first read it back in the late '70s. My high school boyfriend had gone to Rice University, and this was in a poetry book from one of his classes. I've lost touch with the boyfriend, but I still have the book! :-)