The precision of pain and the blurriness of joy. I’m thinking
how precise people are when they describe their pain in a doctor’s
office.Even those who haven’t learned to read and write are precise:
This one’s a throbbing pain, and this one’s
a wrenching pain, and this one gnaws, this one burns and
this is a sharp pain and this
is a dull one. Right here. Precisely here, yes, yes.
Joy blurs everything. I’ve heard people say
after nights of love and feasting, It was great,
I was in seventh heaven. And even the space man who floated
in outer space, tethered to a space ship, could only say, Great,
wonderful, I have no words.
The blurriness of joy and the precision of pain—
I want to describe with a sharp pain’s precision
happiness and blurry joy. I learned to speak among the pains.

This Issue

February 18, 1999