Listening to Virginia

By Harrison, Jeffrey | The Hudson Review, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

Listening to Virginia


Harrison, Jeffrey, The Hudson Review


To the Lighthouse on CD

Driving around town doing errands,

I almost have to pull to the side of the road

because I can't go on another minute without

seeing the words of some gorgeous passage

in the paperback I keep on the passenger seat . . .

but I resist that impulse and keep listening

until it is almost Woolf herself sitting beside me

like some dear great aunt who happens to be a genius

telling me stories in a voice like sparkling waves

and following eddies of thought into the minds

of other people sitting around a dinner table

or strolling under the trees, pulling me along

in the current of her words like a twig riding a stream

around boulders and down foaming cascades,

getting drawn into a whirlpool of consciousness

and sucked under swirling into the thoughts of

someone else, swimming for a time among the reeds

and glinting minnows before breaking free

and popping back up to the surface only to discover

that in my engrossment I've overshot

the grocery store and have to turn around,

and even after I'm settled in the parking lot

I can't stop but sit there with the car idling

because now she is going over it all again

though differendy this time, with new details

or from inside die mind of someone else,

as if each person were a hive, with its own

murmurs and stirrings, diat we visit like bees,

haunting its dark compartments, but reaching

only so far, never to the very heart, die queen's

chamber where die deepest secrets are stored

(and only there to truly know anotiier person),

diough die vibrations and die dance of the worker bees

tell us something, give us something we can take

with us as we fly back out into honeyed daylight. …

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Listening to Virginia
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