January 16, 2015

Maryann Corbett

APOPHATIC

O absent Mind, blank where I fire this prayer,
tongue-tangled Word my neurons flash into flesh
because they must, might you be this: a brash-
ness of Terrible Two whose wild career
of sheer will muddles all my mother-care?
whose not-a-care heaves flood and avalanche?
lets blocky Towers tippy-topple and crash?
giggles delight while crackhead comets steer
headlong at little worlds? Might you be this:
all pink-cheeked lovable but not yet master
at seeing your lovely patterns as disaster?
So rapt up in unwinding fiddle-ferns
you think death changes nothing?
No. This is
all error. But it helps me come to terms.

from Rattle #45, Fall 2014
Tribute to Poets of Faith

[download audio]

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Maryann Corbett: “I’ve been involved with Catholic liturgical music in one way or another for some 50 years. Mostly that has meant singing in choirs or ensembles—church choirs, or the choirs of church-affiliated schools. Performing this way can have a Zen quality: it demands such total attention that it removes the singer from self-awareness. To sing the Allegri ‘Miserere Mei’ or the Duruflé Requiem can be a way of disappearing into the divine. But it also demands one’s presence in churches. That means being constantly immersed in religious art, steeped in Scripture and homily, and forced to grapple not only with the divine presence but also with the Church itself, its official and sometimes discomforting doctrines, its history, and its misdeeds. Those are the problems I often juggle in the poems—those, and the problems everyone juggles, like the persistence of evil and the apparent absence of God in the world. And then there’s also my long education in religious schools, which predisposes me to see religious metaphor all around and to gravitate toward poets in the canon who see it too.”