|'Chaos Theory' '04 by Queena Yoder|
I want to pour my poem into people's cups like rich coffee, dark and bitter, a kind of legal drug that will keep them up all night. I want to give them the gift of Poincaré's coffee, drunk before the magical night about which he said "ideas rose in crowds; I felt them collide until pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination." With that shot of caffeine he saw order condense out of chaos (page 192) and--if only I could pull the words together--I think that's the kind of poem I'm writing.
Right now I fear the order will never come, that my poem will betray me, and that polite readers will surreptitiously toss even more than the dregs into the bushes. Or worse, I'm afraid that I won't be willing to pour out the rawness and ache I've brewed.
I need to finish this poem.
(In lieu of my own unfinished poem, here is a gem I found on page 196 of the book cited above.)
In her room at the prow of the house Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden, My daughter is writing a story. I pause in the stairwell, hearing From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys Like a chain hauled over a gunwale. Young as she is, the stuff Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy: I wish her a lucky passage. But now it is she who pauses, As if to reject my thought and its easy figure. A stillness greatens, in which The whole house seems to be thinking, And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor Of strokes, and again is silent. I remember the dazed starling Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago; How we stole in, lifted a sash And retreated, not to affright it; And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door, We watched the sleek, wild, dark And iridescent creature Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove To the hard floor, or the desk-top, And wait then, humped and bloody, For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits Rose when, suddenly sure, It lifted off from a chair-back, Beating a smooth course for the right window And clearing the sill of the world. It is always a matter, my darling, Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish What I wished you before, but harder.
From New and Collected Poems, published by Harcourt Brace, 1988. Copyright © 1969 by Richard Wilbur. All rights reserved.
Used with permission.
Briggs, John, and F. David Peat. Turbulent Mirror: An Illustrated Guide to Chaos Theory and the Science of Wholeness. Harper & Row, 1971.