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Robert Vivian

RobertVivianRobert Vivian is the author of The Tall Grass Trilogy, Water And Abandon, and two meditative essay collections, Cold Snap As Yearning and The Least Cricket Of Evening. His first poetry book is called Mystery My Country–and he’s co-written a second called Traversings with the poet Richard Jackson. He teaches at Alma College and as a core faculty member at The Vermont College Of Fine Arts. His next book, All I Feel Is Rivers, a collection of dervish essays (a kind of prose poem) will be published in 2020 by the Univ. of Nebraska Press.

Ache Sonata

after 30 years of listening to Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata

The ache before the shudder, the ache before an open window, the ache before every windblown tenderness and cotton wood spore and kiss blown from the altar of any hand, the ache deeply buried in the private nest egg of your heart, that little bird ache in the dark shivering with tenderness and grief and glory, so single T and double G, the ache that is and must be before the writing of a poem or falling in love or prostrating yourself on the ground, the ache that moves you to tears when you hear or see something sad or beautiful or tender (again) you cannot believe or fathom with your brain alone the peeled away naked and feeling truth so the ache comes to rescue you in the sudden age of childhood back these many years in a sudden sound and heartbeat like a skipping fawn or foal, your own buckaroo because it is God kicking in your veins in all howling sweetness at once restored as the sound of a cello reverberates inside your chest, your legs, your genitals, yes, the ache of this divine cello in your kneecaps, your elbows, those humble rounded receivers who can only pick up the wobbling vibrations of love and pity and sobbing sorrow—and the last time ache of the dying on their death beds (cello sounding again in so much searching, so much thrumming) and the ache of the lilac bushes before they bloom and as they bloom blooming now and the bright looping ache of the butterflies who floppily do attend them so deliriously we become a cheering section the whole world over, that constant and Fulbright ache and the scholar of one flaring kitchen match as the butterflies seek to consummate the ache in clumsy but adorable lovemaking and then fly away humpty-dumptyly, the ache even of a new-fangled adverb and the wet, gleaming ache of a trout in my wet, trembling hands and snow falling all around us in the hushed thralldom of cold and stillness and glory (again), my ache reaching out to your ache and the innocent holding of hands no more, no less, my ache just an infinitesimal ache partaking of the vaster ache that fuels the stars and every prom night, first kiss, first slip-n-slide, maybe the ache of the earth and solar system, universal ache going down on one knee to propose the marriage of light to music so that singing becomes a rainbow, gamma rays and gorgeous wormholes of trout (again) aligning the stars and human destiny called gravity or the beauty and ravage of a human face (and see how the lines stack up furrow after furrow sewing memory and regret and the great secret joy that somehow comes out of this bright sadness) even the ache of an earthworm oozing from the ground come April, I sing of the ache with a capital A, the ache of the body after a life time of toil and the ache of the soul in a halo of northern lights a friend told me she could actually hear in the C minor band of red, the unseen ache of every flower to be so beautiful and to blossom before it blossoms and then to blossom after it blossoms in withering away, ache of many books and the ache of the whole D section of the dictionary, the ache of dithyramb and despair and delight on to deify and Doppler and doppelgänger so mirror ache of ghost and wound and whisper and the ache of a weeping truth so I stand and stagger in the middle of this ache rocking back and forth on my heels like someone about to sing or shout or swoon or fall to my knees and embrace a burning tree in some great and unaccountable, uncontrollable, inconsolable outburst of sore raging praise.


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