Watching the river run
Tears and celebration

All the Words

3306168_origI've been trying to figure out how to write about Magda Kapa's All the Words (Phoenicia Publishing, 2015).

This is not an ordinary volume of poems. These are brief aphorisms, glancing definitions, collected in groupings by month. They are periodically in conversation with ghostly categories written in greyed-out headings which almost escape the margins and fall off the page. 

These lines, Magda writes, "are not my conclusions but my unfinished thoughts. They are my little flags to be followed or burned in time. They are crumbs I leave behind as I walk my way reading, thinking, and, of course, living."

Each of these verses was written on Twitter, so none is longer than 140 characters, and all were originally released into the world via that ephemeral medium.

Here are four glimpses, each taken from a different part of the book -- these are not parts of the same poem (except to the extent that the whole book could be read as one long poem) but in juxtaposing them I find them to be in conversation with each other even so.

Love: no matter what.

Mute: not not to speak, but not to be heard.

Grief: it comes in waves and leaves with parts of the rocks.

Line: unites and separates. And its two ends, they way the disappear in the distance, but still feel each other trembling.

There's something about "Love: no matter what" which feels, as I read it, like the promise I make to those most dearly beloved to me every time we part.

"Mute: not not to speak" -- the double negative startles me and then touches me somewhere deep. Because yes, the most painful silence is not mere silence, but what happens when one tries to speak and the person to whom one wants to be speaking can't hear.

"Grief: it comes in waves" -- like the sea; that much is a familiar image, unsurprising, but then she twists deftly to "and leaves with parts of the rocks." Yes: that is how grief is like the sea. Bit by bit it wears one away and transports one to someplace new.

"Line: unites and separates" -- that one makes me think of a line in a poem, of a line on the page...and also of an attenuated connection between two beloveds which may be thin, and may demarcate their separateness, but also holds them together so that when they tremble, they don't tremble alone.

You can support independent publishing by buying All the Words, or any of Phoenicia's many beautiful titles (including two of mine), at the Phoenicia website.

Shabbat shalom to all who celebrate!