Selvage:

ON THE EDGE OF LANGUAGE

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Paths Crossed.

I am, in most things, a rank-and-file skeptic. A confirmed cynic. I am certainly not a particular adherent to any philosophies of fate. Except to those that I am. I do, in fact, think that on occasion, or on most occasions even, that we cross paths with those folks whom we are supposed to for one reason or another. For me, it goes something like this.

In typical Ashberyesqueness, that's not an easy poem. Here's what I have made of it, the far paler rendition:

Poem Coming On


Ashbery’s sense of it—the stranger, always moving

toward you across the next rise, all the people

you haven’t yet met, don’t yet know,

but who are coming on. The sense of someone

out there, moving in a life, now washing the dishes,

now pruning the roses, now talking on the phone.

They cry and make love and laugh out loud

without you. Bury their mother. Stop for coffee

at the corner and glance at the morning

headlines. Show up at the family barbecue.


When you do know them—when the point

of meeting finally does arrive—your life

and theirs no longer remember difference.

Perspective shifts. You see the two lives

as a painter sees the hay bales sitting in the fields:

black boxes against green. No dimensions.


I do think people--and situations, events--are constantly in an unpredictable line aimed at yours. To flinch from the meeting is perhaps to miss a destiny. (That said by someone who resists the idea of destiny at every turn.)

Yesterday, I was sworn in on a criminal jury in downtown L.A. It's at least a month-long trial. It's going to be intense and discomfiting and nothing I can speak of in any detail until it's over. Yet I do feel (in yet a diffuse way) that this experience was put in my way for a reason. Can't explain that. I certainly don't feel like the case needs me in any way. More like I need it.

I'll let you know. Eventually.

And though I'm not there as a writer first, in any stretch of the imagination, the first poem will undoubtedly be titled, "Voir Dire."

8 comments:

  1. Love this. I'll be watching here to see how your inspiration unfolds.

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  2. Ah! I love the unknown. I am excited for you!

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  3. Innnnteresting.

    I once had a conversation with a much older sergeant in the midst of a fairly stressful situation. He observed that, wriggle as we might, some things would happen around us, for us, and to us, will or nil. And that the metal of a person was not nearly so much in the circumstances of the meeting or the run-up, or even outcome, but in the manner of the meeting of them.

    At which point, I believe, we both had to duck.

    I'm intrigued to see and hear the results of your latest meeting.

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  4. It seems you feel this experience barreled toward you in an inevitable way.

    It's unfortunate that people try so hard to avoid jury duty. It's so important to our justice system and it's so interesting. I mean, honestly, some of it is boring. But overall it's an experience not to be missed. And you are every lawyer's dream juror: intelligent, educated, open-minded, a listener. I look forward to hearing how it affects you.

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  5. I can't wait to see what you make of it.

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  6. "...you are every lawyer's dream juror..."

    I think that would depend on both the attorney and the client. I think if my client was obviously guilty I would sooner have a foolish moron easily swayed by emotional appeals. The LAST thing I'd want is a juror who actually paid attention to the case, the evidence and the law.

    Debra's last jury was perfect for her trial's defense attorney, whose client was soundly guilty of kiting checks. He managed to convince several of the jurors that the defendant had to KNOWINGLY pass the bad checks (as if intent was written into the law) to the point where the jury was hung.

    Sad, really. Hope your trial is "better", Linda.

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  7. I'm on the same bus with you. Although I could use some work on upping my level of skepticism. I'll believe almost anything anyone tells me for at least ten minutes.

    And your fate? Mr V! He has downtown jury service starting tomorrow. If you should see him, go over and say hello.

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