“Meditation on Certainty”

by Bobbi Lurie


The impulse to write about Rosmarie Waldrop’s work came before my censoring mind could stop me. It came from a bubbling up of appreciation and admiration for work which has inspired me for many years. But, in the end, all my efforts at finding a way to write “about” Waldrop’s work met with nothing but resistance. I wanted to explore this resistance within myself. After reading Rosmarie Waldrop’s “Meditation On Certainty,” I took a few notes.


The more a proposition hardens its glassy simplicity tilts all fluids away from the body, all thoughts into sudden white. A paralyzing excess of focus, and you know you'll never marry.

I want to write about the humor, sense of playfulness, openness and experimentation in Rosmarie Waldrop’s work. I want to write about her signature use of the fragmented “I” which gives me the sense that I am standing inside the words themselves. It is clear to me as I think of these things that “what” I “think” of Rosmarie Waldrop’s work is not a “what” or a “process of thinking” at all. I am made increasingly aware of how the gaps in Rosmarie Waldrop’s descriptions seem to hover over some unnamed edge which forces me to stop thinking for seconds at a time and brings a sense of wholeness in the reading itself. I sit down and try to describe this. At turns I feel I am getting too analytical, then too intellectual, then it seems I am becoming too mystical, too abstract, and then, in the end, too ridiculous.

a third

to be excluded

I map out the linear arguments I have invented for myself. I try to stay within the margins I have created. I feel stressed by the need for logic and intellectual epiphanies. The magic of poetry leaves me.

Certainly so cold in the knees the words faint, amputated. The wood dries, the door starts creaking, the darkroom is opened too soon. It is the lowest point gathers. A host on the tip of the tongue equals worse than any pied piper.

I argue with myself. My focus keeps getting narrowed. My arguments feel artificial, disrespectful in their assumptions. I feel I am a fraud. Rosmarie Waldrop’s work itself is other than all of my accumulated descriptions. Her writing is a teetering between inside and outside, between comprehension and mystery. I put everything aside hoping I will find clarity when I return to this project in a week or so.

The house as if you could draw your character from it, incest of immobility and sedentary adventure, breath sealed by sediment of ghosts. So inferred, daylight trickles from a high window the larger the absence of puddles on the floor.

I re-read my notes on Rosmarie Waldrop’s work. I see that while she offers possibility, I offer conjecture. I realize everything I have written is about “me” defending my invented position. I cannot do this. What I love about Rosmarie Waldrop’s work is that she allows misunderstanding, she offers herself the freedom for that.

The eye both hungry and

begins to weep

In consistencies in every proposition. I have enslaved myself because to write “about” is to limit the experience “of.” By defining her work I feel I am narrowing my sense of it. Who do I think I am and why would I do this? I am not an intellectual or an academic. I am that nebulous, insistent thing, “a fan.”

This wider lens restores confusion, fingerprints and weeds. Relations alter. Not just the river, the bed, too, shifts. Your mother takes a lover. Slow oscillation of lips, as between hide and seek, magnetic and field. Speeds red without limit through tree tops, leaves flowing through veins.

I read “Meditation On Certainty.”

fine hard

invisible rain

I think I should write Kornelia Freitag and tell her of this problem I have. Then I decide not to.

Hour of glass, pillar of salt. The words come to their senses. It is the lowest point gathers love. Doubt, sometimes called world. It spills your heart.

I press “send.”

Bio: Bobbi Lurie’s poems and essays have been published or are forthcoming in numerous periodicals and literary journals including The American Poetry Review, Nimrod and Gnosis. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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