Friday, January 30, 2009

Kept Perfection

In the collection so enticingly named Hybrids of Plants and Ghosts, Jorie Graham writes these opening lines in the title poem:

I understand that it is grafting,
this partnership of lost wills, common flowers.

That only perfection can be kept, not
its perfect instances.

The title comes from Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

But he who is wisest among you, he also is only a discord and hybrid of plant and of ghost.

Now that gives you a little punch to the chest.

I came across Graham's book on my shelf this morning. It demanded a visit. Scrolling through my photos, this flower captured from a visit to Rhinebeck begged a match. We continually try to make sense of our surroundings, to graft our gatherings. We try to make sense of the light falling around us, to hold onto its shifting shapes. We pull the patterns toward us, cinching the unruly splotches, trying to grasp the pale outlines, the white petals and jagged lightning, with our greedy eyes.

Graham ends her poem with these lines:

White petals, creaseless and ambitious,

may I break your even weave, loosen your knot,

and if I break you are you mine?


Unknown said...

I love that wonderful thought, that we are "a discord and hybrid of plant and of ghost."

Christine said...

Yes, it is excellent. Thanks, Annie.