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Ten Poems from SONO

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Given a way would I be this; given

this thing would I be this. I never knew

how persons could be things, and yet we were

in the vast cosmic Thing; we were little

things. There were greater animations than

ourselves, and to them we were things. This was

a thought in the forest of—thesaurus

of—my nomenclature. How often had

I thought, am I alive or am I dead,

never knowing what either Thingness was.

These were the woods we were talking about,

these were the words we were talking about,

where the forest was always in the trees,

where what I saw was always what I was;

my words, some leaves, all bristling with my life,

animate and aimée, all that was all.

There was an aura, call it a halo,

call it the glow of the moment of grace;

there was something oracular and old,

there was the show and glow, there was hello,

there was yes, no, there was congenial

and genial and joy. There was genius,

a genie in the bottle, breath in the lungs,

there was more than just being as I was:

wind in the woods, a forest in my mind,

the mind of my life found in the forest,

the Thing being named my thing, as it was.


Somewhere over in the platonic place

where I was enshrined in my high ideal,

was there a pure depiction of myself

written in water or else on the wall,

a plural entity named for my grief

or named for my excursions into joy,

some Cerberus or trio of Graces

gracing my life with a howl or a dance,

some triangle of me, myself and I,

an altar to an alternating self

alone, alert beside the aqueduct—

an allusion to the trope of Sarah,

aleatory emblem of my all

as wind spit rain through the ancient arches

and cloud faces gleamed in the dark-lit sky.

There was now and then, there was yes and no,

there was gracious and there was also grave,

but was there a place for my gravity,

where the wall and the wind were in myself,

or a continuum of my own self,

graceful Cerberus, cerberean Grace

gravitating toward the heart of a want,

a place to create what I longed to be

—or the planet versus Platonism—

all the faces of my envisaged self,

engraved with weather, my wish and my will,

gravid with “luminous intensity.”

The Poems:

Traveling / Shadows
Thesaurus / Grace
Grief / Hope
Veronica (Vera Icon) / Trauma
Sistine / Song


Excerpted from SONO by SarahArvio. Copyright: © 2006 by Sarah Arvio
Published in arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Sarah Arvio read these poems at Chapters Bookshop,  Washington, D. C., April 1, 2006

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