A Faint Music by Robert HassMaybe you need to write a poem about grace.When everything broken is broken,and everything dead is dead,and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,and the heroine has studied her face and its defectsremorselessly and the pain they thought might,as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselveshas lost its novelty and not released them,and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,watching the others go about their days—likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears—that self-love is the one weedy stalkof every human blossoming and understood,therefore, why they had been, all their lives,in such a fury to defend it and that no one—except some almost inconceivable saint in his poolof poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automaticlife’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.As in the story a friend told once about the timehe tried to kill himself. His girl had left him.Bees in the heart, then scorpions, maggots and then ash.He climbed onto the jumping girder of the bridge,the bay side, a blue, lucid afternoon.And in the salt air he thought about the word seafood,that there was something faintly ridiculous about it.No one said landfood. He thought it was degrading to the rainbow perchhe’d reeled in gleaming from the cliffs, the black rockbass,scales like polished carbon, in beds of kelpalong the coast—and he realized that the reason for the wordwas crabs, or mussels, clams. Otherwisethe restaurants could just put fish up on their signs,and when he woke—he’d slept for hours, curled upon the girder like a child—the sun was going downand he felt a little better and afraid. He put on the jackethe’d used for a pillow, climbed over the railingcarefully and drove home to an empty house.There was a pair of her lemon yellow pantieshanging on a doorknob. He studied them. Much-washed.A faint russet in the crotch that made him sickwith rage and grief. He knew more or lesswhere she was. A flat somewhere on Russian Hill.They’d have just finished making love. She’d have tearsin her eyes and touch his jawbone gratefully. God,she’d say, you are so good for me. Winking lights,a foggy view downhill toward the harbor and the bay.You’re sad, he’d say. Yes. Thinking about Nick?Yes, she’d say and cry. I tried so hard, sobbing now,I really tried so hard. And then he’d hold her for a while—Guatemalan weavings from his fieldwork on the wall—and then they’d fuck again and she would cry some more,and go to sleep.And he, he would play that sceneonce only, once and a half and tell himselfthat he was going to carry it for a very long timeand that there was nothing he could dobut carry it. He went out onto the porch and listenedto the forest in the summer dark, madrone barkcracking and curling as the cold came up.It’s not the story though, not the friendleaning toward you, saying And then I realized—,which is the part of stories one never quite believes.I had the idea that the world’s so full of painit must sometimes make a kind of singing.And that the sequence helps, as much as order helps—First an ego and then pain and then the singing
Robert Hass
What agony he suffered as he watched that light, in whose golden atmosphere were moving, behind the closed sash, the unseen and detested pair, as he listened to that murmur which revealed the presence of the man who had crept in after his own departure, the perfidy of Odette and the pleasures which she was at that moment tasting with the stranger. And yet he was not sorry that he had come; the torment which had forced him to leave his own house had lost its sharpness when it lost its uncertainty, now that Odette's other life, of which he had had, at that first moment, a sudden helpless suspicion, was definitely there, almost within his grasp, before his eyes, in the full glare of the lamp-light, caught and kept there, an unwitting prisoner, in that room into which, when he would, he might force his way to surprise and seize it; or rather he would tap upon the shutters, as he had often done when he had come there very late and by that signal Odette would at least learn that he knew, that he had seen the light and had heard the voices; while he himself, who a moment ago had been picturing her as laughing at him, as sharing with that other the knowledge of how effectively he had been tricked, now it was he that saw them, confident and persistent in their error, tricked and trapped by none other than himself, whom they believed to be a mile away, but who was there, in person, there with a plan, there with the knowledge that he was going, in another minute, to tap upon the shutter. And, perhaps, what he felt (almost an agreeable feeling) at that moment was something more than relief at the solution of a doubt, at the soothing of a pain; was an intellectual pleasure.'s Way
Marcel Proust