Tuesday, November 09, 2004

New: Linda Hogan's "Nothing"

I'm up to 17,000 words on my NaNo novel; but I need a break. Time to put my energy toward some poetry, and cleanse my mind.


Nothing sings in our bodies
like breath in a flute.
I dwells in the drum.
I hear it now
that slow beat
like when a voice said to the dark,
let there be light,
let there be ocean
and blue fish
born of nothing
and they were there.
I turn back to bed.
The man there is breathing.
I touch him
with hands already owned by another world.
Look, they are desert,
they are rust. They have washed the dead.
They have washed the just born.
They are open.
They offer nothing.
Take it.
Take nothing from me.
There is still a little life
left inside this body,
a little wildness here
and mercy
and it is the emptiness
we love, touch, enter in one another,
and try to fill.

-Linda Hogan

I could write an entire essay (and maybe I will) on the meaning of "nothing" in this poem. It is the title, so I imagine that is something Hogan want the reader to do.

The first two lines: "Nothing sings in our bodies / like breath in a flute" sound almost flippant, the way someone might say, "Nothing tastes like chocolate," meaning there is no no food that exists that has the distinct, unique flavor of chocolate.

But the simile forces the reader to examine this more closely; "nothing" is compared to "breath." It is also compared to the air in a drum. It is the sound that brought forth creation; it is the space which we leave available for another to fill. "Nothing", in Hogan's poem, is life-energy, that which creates and lives and offers and cleanses. It is as vital as the air, whether in a flute or a drum or in our lungs. When the speaker says, "Take nothing from me," she is offering everything she is.


Robin said...

Congrats on your 17,000 words! With the NaNo project is there a structure provided for you, beyond the word count requirements? Just curious....

danette said...

What book is the poem "Nothing" from?