Saturday, April 14, 2018

Edward Gorey


Edward Gorey

I feel most times like an Edward Gorey character
pulled from an illustration and made to stand here
among the traffic lights and the mall renovations.
Just the mere act of living one day at a time now
a diminishment of all the romantic possibilities
I dreamed of in my twenties. No one ever dies
of ennui. At least you can hit two or three words
together, and spark a new idea or a conceit but
I’ve grown too old to explain how images work
to the young. The world happens with or without
you. The tree in my yard will still be standing long
after I’m gone. A poem persists whether anyone
reads it or not. In Montreal, I remember the long
winters, and my own inability to write anything
but failure, which reduced me to reading and
rereading the work of others who were like Gods
to me, the way their poems flowed through and
eddied around forms, and a consciousness that
seemed semi-divine, but really was the product
of hard work and ambition. You can’t teach
ambition which is the pilot-light of any poem
or collection. Mostly, I want more from a lifetime
of teaching which is why I catch a glimpse of
my former self scurrying down St Urbain street
with the snow falling lightly on iron staircases
of the many houses while I try to find my way
to the Graduate party where I will no doubt
be embraced by friends. I remember the lights
lining the street, the warm glow coming out
of the houses, my trudging along sidewalks
through snow, and thinking life does not get
better than this, this soft sifting of memory
and experience, which itself is like a Gorey
illustration, the tiny figure in the foreground,
the houses looming about him, a stirring
of menace somewhere in the frame. I’m forty-
seven, and I still love that kid who will not
know addiction for at least ten more years.
The way his life is still unwritten. His only
thought whether to pick up a quart of beer
from the Depanneur where a twelve year old
boy sits smoking beside his grandfather, or
whether to pick up bagels on the way home.
I’m hungry for that life but I can touch it
in a poem. A hunger for the authentic.   

By Chris Banks

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