Now'n'then I Get the Feeling . . .

ANDREI CODRESCU

September 06, 1993|By ANDREI CODRESCU

New Orleans. -- Now'n'then I get the feeling that something is changing, that something big is about to happen but I can't quite put my finger on it.

The news is no help. Just like the weather, it's only a little different today from what it was yesterday. Outside, it's about two degrees cooler, the light is just a bit richer, it's a hint all right, but it's too early to say, It's fall, oh, dear God, finally it's fall.

Maybe it's the expectant feeling wafting like a soft breeze from millions of children not quite ready to go back to school. Maybe it's the pile of unanswered mail lying on top and under my desk like unswept yellow leaves: The Jewish Vegetarians of America invite you to Canada for the 4th of July . . . contribute to an anthology in honor of Dr. Kevorkian . . . please read my poems I wrote them these past 30 years . . . do you know my grandfather? He was Romanian . . . On and on they go -- appeals, plaints, laments.

But it's not news, autumn, children or neglected letters. Those are just clues. Something else is changing. Even the books I'm reading all at once are full of hints but no help: ''The Medieval Imagination'' by Jacques Le Goff, ''The Brooklyn Book of the Dead'' by Michael Stephens, ''Arise and Walk'' by Barry Gifford, ''Enemy Clothing'' by Cydney Chadwick -- wonderful rows of words, chilly recognitions of the familiar, unfamiliar world. At times like this, only music comforts and seems to know. In dives all over town people who've run out of things to say huddle in corners cloaked in music. A kind of fear of facts, articulation, completeness seizes me.

And then I get it, sort of. It's not the news that's changing, or the weather. Not yet. It's what pulls them to change, the tide underneath, the vast magnetic pull of things that are as yet nameless and can only be named by poetry. It's the force of a poem I'm feeling, tearing down the provisional agreements, the small certainties. Each fall they give less willingly.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of Exquisite Corpse.

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