As when in the first hours, days, weeks of new love, all gesture in the world is enlarged, aglow with consequence. As when in the timeless, nearly unconscious spell of composing a new poem, nothing you experience seems extraneous, the house finch in the mesquite out the bathroom window and the bombing of an Indian hotel welcomed equally into the work.
The power of the unfamiliar to expand the moment, to extend our senses. Stepping inside the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, weeping, me, a nonbeliever, at the overwhelming poignancy of the drama, for the complications of faith demonstrated—no, felt—in the Virgin and Christ stories depicted in the frescoes. Time stilled by the depth and breadth of impressions. The draftsmanship of Giotto: one can read the relation among images at a glance. Each panel uncluttered, each angel, hand, human figure, architectural detail, simply represented. Yet in the figures’ bodies, the subtle modeling in the faces, the angle of the earth and heavens, the position of a roof line, the relation among the shades of blue and green and red, names inadequate to their expressiveness, something mysterious, moving, exhilarating. An essence of faith, of life. Or so I explained it to myself in my travel notebook in a rush of gratefulness.
The poem as the condition of love—or crisis, the mind made ready, receptive, expansive, acquisitive, creative.