Each Thing We Know Is Changed Because We Know It
All places are complicated, because what one becomes depends on them, but I think poets who are native Californians have bewildering ironic relationships to the place, and not just because California has changed. It’s that there are references so strange, so odd, one feels he couldn’t explain them to anyone. . . . Like Didion or Hass, Kevin Hearle is obsessed by an identity that doesn’t exist anyway now, something that can’t be expressed. . . . This is a brilliant first book, not because the poet is a native Californian troubled by his sense of exile from the place even though he lives there. It’s brilliant because the poet is so gifted. By the end of it Hearle sees through his illusions and cherished self-enchantments, has seen through himself, so that this book, at the end, looks out on the world.
From the introduction by Larry Levis
For Confucius, Giordano Bruno, and my Uncle Johnie
I sing this song for Confucius,
who loved music and recommended it
as a means of moderating grief;
and I sing this song
for Giordano Bruno, who
loved memory and felt
was ever moderated it was
transposed into a different form;
and I sing
this song for my Uncle Johnie,
who, in his love and
at eighty-two, called me
his grandson and begged me
to remember his dreams.
I cannot please them all:
I remember their dreams
only so much
as they are mine, and I sing
to remember them, those
who made me who I am.
And, if I should wake up
from their dreams no longer singing,
that would be the grief
most wholly mine.
Copyright © 1994 by Kevin Hearle