I've been crying. Last night I cried for about twenty minutes. And today, after dinner, I went straight to my room and cried. No, no: I'm not depressed or sad. I've been thinking about the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Whenever I allow myself to concentrate on his work I become an emotional wreck. I've always wanted to write a poem informed by one of his pieces, but each attempt I've made has been a mess: too obvious or too sentimental.
But this evening as I was reading Jean Valentine I came across two lines that floored me.
breath and breath
I immediately thought of this Gonzalez-Torres piece, and then I heard myself softly mutter some lines and images. I dashed to my desk, and wrote down what I'd said. I looked at the lines. I cut out one line, and I edited another. I put down my notebook and walked away. I dare say that I wrote a poem tonight.
Thank you, Jean Valentine. Thank you, Felix
I love walking down to Saratoga Springs. I especially enjoy walking past the horse stables. Racing season starts on Wednesday, and there's a lot of Mexican/ Central American men working in the stables. I love to catch glimpses of them working. Today a short man wearing a Gloria Trevi t-shirt was forking hay onto the flatbed of a truck. I never stop and gawk at them. I understand they're working hard, and I'm on my way downtown to sip an iced coffee, or to buy more books. I understand. I do. I'm working in a different way. I'm working to write poems that their children will one day read and study in high schools and colleges. Poems that will say to them: your parents haven't been forgotten, their stories have been written down, the fire-language that came out of their mouths still burns and illuminates.
And no: I'm not spending all my time at Yaddo crying. I called Rigoberto tonight and he had me laughing soon enough.
Right now I'm thinking of my father's hands.