The Ghazal of What Hurt by Peter Cole
“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it,” says David Foster Wallace.
The Ghazal of What Hurt
Pain froze you, for years—and fear—leaving scars.
But now, as though miraculously, it seems, here you are
walking easily across the ground, and into town
as though you were floating on air, which in part you are,
or riding a wave of what feels like the world’s good will—
though helped along by something foreign and older than you are
and yet much younger too, inside you, and so palpable
an X-ray, you’re sure, would show it, within the body you are,
not all that far beneath the skin, and even in
some bones. Making you wonder: Are you what you are—
with all that isn’t actually you having flowed
through and settled in you, and made you what you are?
The pain was never replaced, nor was it quite erased.
It’s memory now—so you know just how lucky you are.
You didn’t always. Were you then? And where’s the fear?
Inside your words, like an engine? The car you are?!
Face it, friend, you most exist when you’re driven
away, or on—by forms and forces greater than you are.
Michelle in NYC
The DFW quote!!!
“The pain was never replaced, nor was it quite erased.
It’s memory now—so you know just how lucky you are.”
Love this. Thanks so much for posting it.
Talked to my father–an old AA guy–apparently that line isn’t a purely original DFW thing, but another AA cliche (though a damned good one, I think).
jesus this poem is resonating with me right now
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