2 sections from A Quiet Book
Emerson once had a dream in which an angel came to him and pointed out the world floating like a child’s bauble in space, took it in hand where it rolled in the angel’s palm no larger than a grape, and said to the dreamer: “Thou must eat.”
And Emerson did. He swallowed the world whole.
It’s easy to make fun of Pythagoras refusing to eat beans.
But he thought of the universe as one indivisible thing, somewhat kidney shaped, past articulation—a word whose original meaning is anatomical, “to cut along the joints of the body”—containing when it is opened no parts, as the source of the many is the one.
When you know you are not dreaming, perhaps it’s harder to swallow the world.
Or even being chased with your very life at stake, to run across the field that is both a field of beans and the starry archipelagoes, and risk trespassing into the holy ground, isn’t worth the risk.
But it’s hard to know when you’re dreaming.
The poet told us to moan, and we moaned.
She gave us a poem by another poet. The poem had only one word: “Bird.” The word kept repeating and it made a shape. The shape was the cage of a bird.
That’s how we learned we become our own limit. Emerson writes, “Every thought is also a prison; every heaven is also a prison.” That’s how we ended up being this cage with no bird inside it.
All wire, no song.
The poet told us to moan louder.
Dan Beachy-Quick is the author or co-author of fourteen books of poetry, exploratory prose, and fiction, including, most recently, Gentlessness (2015) and Shields & Shards & Stitches & Songs (2015). His work has been supported by the Lannan Foundation, and he has taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Colorado State University. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his family.