Nocturne in Blue and Gold--Southampton
by James Abbott McNeill Whistler
I know prose poems are born into this world and walk around on their own legs. I know this. And I'm ever grateful.
But some books of non-poetry make it awfully difficult to resist the urge to reach down deep into the narrative & extract something resembling a prose poem, both hands gleaming when held up to the light.
I'm thinking of Jeanette Winterson's Written on the Body, J.P. Rosenthanl's Elena of the Stars, Tove Jansson's The Summer Book, Adam Rapp's Nocturne, David Guterson's East of the Mountains, Dorothy Allison's Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, even Thomas Lynch's The Undertaking: Studies from the Dismal Trade.
I'm thinking genre, limitation, a rusted wire fence strung up around a field overgrown with wildflowers & prairie grass. I'm thinking borderland.
"The piano doesn't sing. It sobs. It aches without release. Like a word that can't wrench itself from the throat. Like an alkaline trapped in the liver. Even one note. A C-sharp. The death of a small bird. An F. A stranded car's horn bleating for help on the highways. The piano has permanence. A factual permanence. You walk into a room and there it is, in all its stoic grandeur. It has omnipotence. It waits for you without pursuit. The hulking, coffinlike stillness. The way it comes to know your touch. Like a lover's private indulgence. A kind of glacial intimacy. A cold, sexless knowing." -- Adam Rapp, Nocturne