In a video I show my creative writing students, the famous American poet Robert Bly, when explaining to people about how to listen to poetry, says that you listen first for the music, you don’t try to understand the meaning. He says this as he picks delicately at a lyre and recites, in dramatic timing, the Breton’s Fisherman Prayer:
Lord, your sea
is so immense, and
There’s an ear in your heart, he says. And one in your soul. You can hear, he suggests, with ears other than the ones on your head. Almost as an afterthought, he looks dead at the audience and says, “There’s an ear in your genitals.” Although when he says it, it’s more like this:
an ear, in
As with most spiritual instruction, I do not understand what he means exactly. I sense, however, that when I hear certain poetry, or certain music, or I see certain dance pieces, that my genital ear is hearing it. If your stuff is really, really good (Jeff Buckley), then my head ears, my soul and heart ears, and definitely my nether ear are simultaneously engaged. At that moment, when all my ears are open and I am hearing you, I feel God on earth with exceptional clarity.
At the risk of sounding even more insane, I suspect this “genital ear” is the metaphysical sensory organ that connects to nature because both are the seats of raw creation, artistic and sexual. I’ve been thinking about this idea of alternate forms of perception because I know intuitively that heading to the Everglades ignites something subterranean in me, something I don’t quite remember and I have to go back there to reclaim it. If I had to wage a guess, I’d say it’s simply my connection to my home, to my natural habitat.
If I had to write a poem right now about how I feel about my current state of existence it would be this:
The second part of the poem would be this:
Your credentials are not recognized. Please retype your user
name and pass
Tonight as I write this I’m aware that I’m on the bridge between lives. That the Everglades is probably a genital ear of the earth, that it hears and senses things and traffics information that humanity would struggle to fathom, if it cared to fathom. Well, I suppose I believe all Nature does that–speaks and hears and informs–and most of us have forgotten that we belong to the big webs (the ones we can see and the ones we can’t see). At least I know that I have gotten so far away from my beginnings that I am longing for a sense of place, of home.
Tonight we got an apartment. My boat feels very small. I wonder if my ears are open. I am sailing
from the shores of user
Night, night my beloveds.