I want a word that means
okay and not okay,
more than that: a word that means
devastated and stunned with joy.
I want the word that says
I feel it all all at once.
The heart is not like a songbird
singing only one note at a time,
more like a Tuvan throat singer
able to sing both a drone
two or three harmonics high above it—
a sound, the Tuvans say,
that gives the impression
of wind swirling among rocks.
The heart understands swirl,
how the churning of opposite feelings
weaves through us like an insistent breeze
leads us wordlessly deeper into ourselves,
blesses us with paradox
so we might walk more openly
into this world so rife with devastation,
this world so ripe with joy.
Have you not ever wished for such a word, one that means okay and not okay, when you are not quite either. A word that means devastated and stunned with joy – the complexity of living one’s life with the paradox of grieflove. She is seeking a word that says I feel it all all at once. I missed that second ‘all’ on first reading – all of it, all at once.
Tuvan throat singing, as I’ve learned, is a technique which originated in central Asia for singing two or more pitches at the same time, one deep, one high. What a perfect metaphor for the contrast between sorrow and joy, those intermingled emotions we all must encounter some time. The wind swirling as the heart swirls, the churning of opposite feelings.
Many poets from Blake in the 18th century, to the current Mark Nepo have written to express this commingling of apparently opposite feelings. Here Rosemerry gives us this uniquely aural image of throat singing, a way to live with this paradox, to be in this world so rife with devastation, / this world so ripe with joy. I am touched by her words, by the universality of this experience.