Like the Statue of Liberty, the library called,
“Give me your tired, give me your weary”
A lighthouse, it gleamed in the distance.
It was a sanctuary,
Home to chairs that were
Uncomfortable but they had stopped minding
Various Tupperware containers being opened
Different cuisines fusing into one,
At the same time.
It was a good fusion.
Studying, they tried, eventually, the subjects would
Merge into one, math and english and science,
And so many others, the majors were endless,
At this point, though, they were one and all the same.
They tried to force themselves awake,
Taking breaks, they
Watched the football on the television,
But they had watched a hundred games like this one,
And it had yet to become different.
Besides, their mind had entered a dream-like state,
Half-asleep, they ate their dinner.
It was impersonal, cooked by someone they didn’t know,
Not to say it wasn’t good,
Because it was,
But they missed home, a little bit.
Eventually, they couldn’t resist the pull of gravity,
They laid their heads on their books
And their eyes begin to flutter
Still, they tried to keep awake, realizing that they had been tricked
The library was courteous, a gentleman,
It tiptoed around them
Cast sparkling shadows from the sunset
Onto their faces,
And lulled them to sleep.
the rain comes on suddenly,
they are unprepared, their hoods from their hoodies
are all they have, their
umbrellas are forgotten at home, they are
unfamiliar with michigan weather,
where the saying goes
“if you don’t like the weather,
wait ten minutes.”
they realize this soon but
not soon enough.
the water that the drain rejected has seeped
into their converse, their nike air force ones, their checkered vans,
cleaning the once-white soles but
leaving them damp,
their solution for this is coffee
like it is for many of their problems,
cold, iced tea, contrasting with the weather,
whisked in their hands, flurrying away.
the sidewalks get their dose of cleaning, from
shoes that walk miles upon it every day,
the leaves lose their crunch, and instead
shine brightly on the pavement,
like walking on rainbow road
from mario kart.
a topic of conversation,
all day long,
coats are thrown off, umbrellas shaken at doorsteps,
they say “it’s pouring out there!”
and they have this same conversation every time it rains,
their shoes always get wet,
they always get coffee,
they always walk on rainbow road,
they go through this every time it rains,
and yet their love for it
Walk the stacks of Hatcher,
all the history it contains
Up and down the hallways,
marvel at what remains
Centuries worth of books,
all sitting there in dust
Many of them never picked,
thankfully cannot rust
Their wordsmiths have come and gone,
the books as ever young
Their words sit upon these musty shelves,
their contents remain unsung
We talk and talk and hope one is listening,
to know that we exist
Like us, these books want to be heard,
it is our eyes that they have missed
Close your eyes and pick a book,
leave your texts unsent
The books are celebrating your arrival,
they appreciate the time spent
Read the book in an open field,
where flowers are so merry
Where the sun shines upon its spine,
where it isn’t a dark library
Walk the stacks of Hatcher
when you have some time to spare
The books yearn to be opened,
they wish to feel the sweet summer air
I really had no other reason to be at this concert besides who I was sitting next to. He asked and I said yes. Luckily.
I glimpsed (more like studied; the room was silent and there was little else to do besides read since my voice tends to fill most spaces even at their largest) at the program and read, â€œSchumann: Dichterliebe.â€ Or I at least read Schumann and had a flashback to curly hair, beautiful professor, Deleuze event, and something about â€œthe Refrain.â€ Lately, Iâ€™ve often forgot how amazing it is to be at the University of Michigan, not because it is amazing
but rather because there are a lot of opportunities for class and life and interests to have a real conversation. Namely, there are chances to take what I study and apply it to situations OR I can see what I study â€œin the real world,â€ which, as an English and Philosophy student, is sometimes difficult. Tucked behind/beside/near the Aut Bar (some could say a gay bar, family restaurant, or gay studies lab), the Kerrytown Concert Hall is one of the cutest venues Iâ€™ve been in and I absolutely love the cozy atmosphere. There is a facade of escape at such concerts, and for me the escape is heightened when the music performed isnâ€™t from this century–it is my form of time travel.
(Since, as Iâ€™ve said, campus life is beyond unbearable, and this is coming from a person with almost all agent social identities, i.e., I identify as a white, cis-man, middle class, temporarily able-bodied person . . . . And to see not only the student government act atrociously but also other students stand behind such actions makes me (on the tame side of my emotions) want to never look at this campus again. And then when you pile on my queerness, Iâ€™m ready to evacuate immediately and call this campus, more or less, a war zone where a majority of my friends and my community remain unsafe on a daily basis. I would like to travel by any means necessary: time, space.)
As the Schumann started, I realized that I had analyzed (or been in the presence of an analysis of) this very pieceâ€™s first movement. For a Deleuze Interest Group event. How did a friend taking me to a concert send me spiralling into the philosophico-musical feels? I donâ€™t know, but it happened.
The song melted away, much like when I oil pull in the morning–it starts of granular? or at least in some conglomeration of solid until it melts into a liquid and congeals in some sort of liquid mass of â€œdetoxification and whiteningâ€–and only solidified, perhaps, when I left the venue, walked away, into my night (a drag show). Chords unfinished continued to haunt me as a queen flashed the audience and I was left agasp not at perfectly sculpted breasts but at Schumann, lurking just behind me, never to be fully seen or taken in.
After a few more songs that helped to fill out the theme of â€œA Loversâ€™ Discourseâ€ started, happened, and ended, the pianist/composer/friend-of-my-friend-on-the-left-of-meâ€™s compositions began.
The first. Three Frank Oâ€™Hara poems. The second. One Sylvia Plath poem.
Now it is dangerous, as someone who â€œstudies literature,â€ to attend such events. I have been trained to be a snob, although the training has been undertaken, more often than not, by myself. SO. I obviously have a lot of feels about these two songs.
I think what matters most to me, and to this blog, is not how I felt about the composition itself (which I loved by itself, however, I disliked the tenor singing the lyrics of the poetry since I felt there was a HUGE disconnect between form and content, which could be the point even though I doubt) but how I felt inside of someoneâ€™s interpretation of the poetry. Live music is not just something I listen to, but I become the music. It fills my nostrils, it enters my body, and fills, yes, â€œmy soul.”
(My soul aches. I am aching because the Ann Arbor campus, a place I was taught and eventually learned to love in some real way, is parasitic to its most important inhabitants. It is a sad thing for an institution to remain passive when individual, one-off microaggressions happen. It is an unspeakable offense for an institution committed to â€œsocial justice and diversityâ€ to enact the very crimes it condemns. The rampant racism, transphobia, ableism, homophobia, sexism is abhorrent. I can only hope the University and its various governing bodies take responses like this one to heart and take responsibility, acknowledge their accountability, and do things (not just say things) to rectify what they’ve done.)
And I hated the interpretation. Though it was refreshing to be in a conversation about poetry without using any words. It was like listening to the most beautiful one-sided debate, and I was the other team refusing to speak.
What is beautiful about this campus may be purely aesthetic. I can study, I can read, I can feel, and then I can go and see things enacted, performed, experimented with by those in or near my community.
Days like today I cling to the aesthetic, sit in my corner, and count the minutes I have left before I can take flight.