"January 9, 2008 2:14 p.m."
I edit compulsively, reflexively.
Reading a recent issue of The New Yorker, I came upon a poem by W.S. Merwin, entitled "Near Field." In it, I found much that I liked...and much I felt unnecessary, even distracting.
Last night, as I prepared to toss the issue into my recycling bin, I revisited my edit. Ridiculous though it may be to flense the words of another, I do find my version more dream-like and ambiguous, and therefore more haunting.
Every writer or poet needs an editor; keep the red pen handy.
This is not something new
or kept secret
the tilled ground unsown in late spring
the dead are not separate from the living
each has one foot in the unknown
and cannot speak for the other
the field tells none of its
it lies under its low cloud
like a waiting riverthe pains and shadows
the dead made this out of their hunger
out of what they had been told
and bowels of animals
out ofturning and
about another time
-W.S. Merwin (edited by Christopher Reiger)
Photo credit: Raymond Meeks photograph ripped from Candace Dwan Gallery site