a skin of the I own

10:51 AM Posted by James Owens

Midwinter. Dead of. I own you says my mind. Own what, own
whom. I look up. Own the looking at us
say the cuttlefish branchings, lichen-black, moist. Also
the seeing, which wants to be more than it sees.
Also, in the glance, the feeling of owning, accordioning out and up,
& there is cloud on blue ground up there, & wind which the eye loves so deeply it
would spill itself out and liquefy
to pay for it—
& the push of owning is thrilling, is spring before it
is—is that swelling—is the imagined fragrance as one
bends, before the thing is close enough—wide-
eyed leaning—although none of this can make you
because, looking up, the sky makes you hear it, you know why we have come it
blues, you know the trouble at the heart, blue, blue, what
pandemonium, blur of spears roots cries leaves master & slave, the crop destroyed,
water everywhere not
drinkable, & radioactive waste in it, & human bodily
waste, & what
says the eye-thinking heart, is the last color seen, the last word
heard—someone left behind, then no behind—
is there a skin of the I own which can be scoured from inside the

--Jorie Graham, "Futures," from Sea Change (Ecco Press, 2008)


(Blogger utterly destroys the significant arrangement of text on Graham's pages)


Possibly the most important poetry book of the year, by a marvelous poet too often misunderstood (cf. James Longenbach's largely mistaken review in the New York Times).

Graham understands the fundmental unity of lyric and elegy, and so writes a book suffused equally with the beauty of the natural world and the realisation that the world is dying, choked in the toxic fog that we have become to the planet. The knowledge that we may be seeing the blossoming for the (or a) last time. Poems of a very Heideggerian critique, that problematize their very power to express by linking their own relationship to seeing and meaning with the destructive, penetrative "technological attitude" (cf, Heidegger, "The Question Concerning Technology") that recasts the world as a storehouse of raw mateial for use.

Beauty and sadness. And I don't think very many people are reading this book.