Watching it closely, respecting its mystery,
is the note you’ve pinned above this heavy Dutch table
that takes the light weight of what you work at,
coaxing the seen and any mystery it might secrete
into words that mightn’t fall too far short, might let you
hear how the hum of bees in the pink fuchsia
and among the buttercups and fat blackberries
is echoed by that deep swissshhh sound that is
your own blood coursing its steady laps
and speaking in beats to the drum of your left ear.
When you watch the way the sycamore leaf curls,
browns, dries, and drops from the branch it’s lived on
since spring, to be blown by a soundless breeze
along the seed heads of the uncut grass, then
the mystery that is its movement—the movement,
that is, from seed to leaf-shard and so on
to fructive dust—holds still an instant, gives a glimpse
of something that quickens away from language
into the riddling bustle of just the actual as you
grab at it and it disappears again, again unsaid.
“…I go on to suppose that the shock-receiving capacity is what makes me a writer. I hazard the explanatin that a shock is at once in my case followed by a desire to explain it. I feel that I have had a blow; but it is not, as I thought as a child, simply a blow hidden behind the cotton wool of daily life; it is or will become a revelation of some order; it is a token of some real thing behind appearances; and I make it real by putting it into words…”—Virgina Woolf, “A Sketch of the Past”
“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”—J.K Rowling, Harvard Commencement 2008
“…she took her hand and raised her brush. For a moment it stayed trembling in a painful but exciting ecstacy in the air. Where to begin?—that was the question at what point to make the first mark? One line placed on the canvas committed her to innumerable risks, to frequent and irrevocable decisions. All that in idea seemed simple became in practice immediately complex; as the waves shape themselves symmetrically from the cliff top, but to the swimmer, but to the swimmer among them are divided by steep gulfs, and foaming crests. Still the risk must be run; the mark made”—Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse. We’re toward the end of the book, inside Lily Briscoe’s head as she starts to paint.