Thursday, February 16, 2017

Just Kids

A week or so ago I finished reading Patti Smith's memoir, Just Kids. Memoirs are my favorite genre of books because I love learning the stories of people's lives, and memoirs often feel more intimate than an autobiography.

I found this particular memoir to be wonderful; in it, Patti Smith details the relationship she shared with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe during the ultra-bohemian days of NYC. The title comes from Robert's words, and as I read this poem (The Chance, Arthur Sze) a few days after I finished reading, it made me think of the book again.

The blue-black mountains are etched
with ice. I drive south in fading light.
The lights of my car set out before
me and disappear before my very eyes.
And as I approach thirty, the distances
are shorter than I guess? The mind
travels at the speed of light. But for
how many people are the passions
ironwood, ironwood that hardens and hardens?
Take the ex-musician, insurance salesman,
who sells himself a policy on his own life;
or the magician who has himself locked
in a chest and thrown into the sea,
only to discover he is caught in his own chains.
I want a passion that grows and grows.
To feel, think, act, and be defined
by your actions, thoughts, feelings.
As in the bones of a hand in an X-ray,
I want the clear white light to work
against the fuzzy blurred edges of the darkness:
even if the darkness precedes and follows
us, we have a chance, briefly, to shine.

Here is a video of Patti Smith paying tribute to Bob Dylan at the Nobel Prize ceremony. Beautiful!

Let us walk in the holy presence.