I make no form of formlessness.

I have told you briefly, before, about how glad I am to have been at Cornell at the same time as Archie Ammons, even if I didn't know him. The semester after his death, I was assigned to his office with several other graduate instructors who were only teaching during the fall semester. I spent a lot of that semester thinking about Archie's absence.

This morning, I came across his poem "Corsons Inlet" in the Poetry Daily Archive (a great resource, by the way). I know that I have read this poem in the past, but it had a lovely, thrilling effect on me all over again this morning, making me realize that I must never really have known the poem before.

In the poem, the speaker recalls his morning walk. Here are two of my favorite bits, along with a link to the whole poem. (My copy of Ammons's Collected Poems 1951-1971 is stuck full of black and white snapshots I took on my way home from campus one snowy, icy evening while I was writing my dissertation. I know that one reason I love Ammons is that he and his verses so loved a place that I have loved so much too.)

from Corsons Inlet

the walk liberating, I was released from forms,
from the perpendiculars,
        straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds
of thought
into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends
                  of sight:

                        I allow myself eddies of meaning:
yield to a direction of significance
like a stream through the geography of my work:
      you can find
in my sayings
                       swerves of action
                       like the inlet's cutting edge:
                  there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:

but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:

(and then, the end of the poem)

                I see narrow orders, limited tightness, but will
not run to that easy victory:
                still around the looser, wider forces work:
                I will try
          to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,
that I have perceived nothing completely,
                that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.

-- A. R. Ammons

You should go read the rest of the poem. I have given you only the briefest of tastes.

The diagrams of formes and impositions I studied today make my head spin; two nights ago, I dreamed that I was sitting a massive math exam--on beyond calculus, even--because that's what so much of this bibliography material feels like to me. It's not an unwelcome feeling. Sometimes I miss using that part of my brain on a regular basis, I for whom numbers and formulae also used to sing.

As if on cue, the buzzer on my dryer alerts me that I should be folding clothes now.

source for tonight's image: New Jersey's Department of State's Archive.