Where we end and the world begins


“It’s not that poetry reveals more about the world, it doesn’t, but it reveals more about our interactions with the world than our other modes of expression. And it doesn’t reveal more about ourselves alone in isolation, but rather it reveals that mix of self and other, self and surrounding, where the world ends and we begin, where we end and the world begins.”

– Mark Strand

Early January has dispensed a series of spectacular sunrises and sunsets here in Homer. One after another strung like blushing pearls on an icy cord. For all the delicate tints of the sky, the world itself has been made of stone. Layers and layers of ice. Even the snow has a layer of ice on top of it. Not a fluffy flake in sight, but rather the kind of cold that rings like iron against the light.

I’ve been leading a group of intrepid folks through some investigations of haiku, as a poetry form and a practice. Every other day, they’ve received a little note from me with some things to think about and read. I hope it’s making them see the world a little differently. Just as Mark Strand writes above, “…it (poetry) reveals a mix of self and other, self and surrounding.”

Do we choose to look at the infinite gradations in the sky or focus on the impenetrability of frozen surface? Neither is better than the other; each uncovering something about the boundary of perception. Where the world ends and we begin. Or where we end and the world begins. Take your pick.

Me, I aspire to permeability, to open, to fluid. That boundary always shifting.


Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

~ Mark Strand

2 Replies to “Where we end and the world begins”

  1. Hi Erin,
    Homer sounds so amazing, so different to me in Australia 104 today, working at my little bookshop
    no aircon, but sea breeze.
    I walked on the beach later, pondering Marks poem – one to write in my book!
    Thanks Kay

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