In French, it simply means a summary,
which limits what it can and can’t convey
despite my padding and hyperbole.
No room to cite the winter night I lay
inside an ambulance (my friend was dead),
they strapped me down, the flares lit up the snow.
No place to say how luckily I wed,
or itemize what took me years to know.
The format’s not designed to mention awe;
transcendence can’t be summarized at all.
And nowhere on the page to say I saw
a plane explode, I saw a building fall.
But these are skills not easily assessed;
all references provided on request.
—from Rattle #22, Winter 2004
Rob Ingraham: “British poet Philip Larkin, responding to an interview question from The Observer regarding travel and the creative urge said, ‘A novelist needs new scenes, new people, new themes. The Graham Greenes, the Somerset Maughams, traveling is necessary for them. I don’t think it is for poets. The poet is really engaged in recreating the familiar, he’s not committed to introducing the unfamiliar.’ Once I understood that, everything else fell into place.”