Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

That Formal Feeling after Great Pain

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

That Formal Feeling after Great Pain

Article excerpt

I thought I was in hell;

therefore I was in hell.

-Rimbaud

Emily nailed it on this one

though I might add "during"

as well as the inevitable "after"-

that gasp of revelation,

more benign Sunday school,

little Golden Book, Rockwell versions

(though Norman's personal life

was wretched)

perhaps:

the sense of ablution after your

first Holy Communion;

or the transfiguration you witness

as you stand before the mirror

in your rented tuxedo

hours before the prom;

what the Slavs call "litost,"

catching sight of yourself

in a storefront window

and panting in disbelief

new territory, you the wagon master

heading into a canyon,

or, say, when someone drives

a pitchfork into your chest

and you stand dazed, stunned,

incredulous as you sink to your knees

knowing all along

that you deserved it-

the casual formalized

Tchaikovsky

his friends would gather in the parlor

when he bid them good night

and wait a while

until they figured he was asleep

to strike an unresolved chord

on his piano. …

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