Rusty Morrison
Amplification                        (page 4)

There is an amplification of stillness, and this seems to infuse the quality of my hearing the wind as the clouds move, my feeling of the texture of petals as I touch them, the scent of some trees and flowers… and I ask myself, is the heightening itself what I want to call ‘death’? But that word, “death,” is like a child’s nursery rhyme for what I sense. I must be very open-handed, open-minded in the ways that I hold the word “death,” or its past meanings for me shut the motion of heightening, rather than call it forth. This awareness, which comes most powerfully in the natural world, and which feels so resonant with my experience of death, so aligned with death—even as that word’s meaning evolves each time I use it in this way—this amplification certainly does not feel uniquely related to me or to my particular parent’s deaths. It seems so much larger than that. But I do think that the only way that I, myself, could access it was through the actual, unique, and particular experiences that I had as I experienced their deaths, and as I experienced the enormous sense of loss that followed.

And, maybe it is because this loss emptied me so completely that I then had the room within myself to feel the force of an amplification that perhaps had always been available to me, if I’d only been attentive enough to feel it. But whether or not I could have found this sense of amplification in other ways, I do know that it has now become intimately associated with my practice of writing. At first, I found it easiest to listen for when writing about my parent’s deaths. And I used my frequent returns to walking in the natural world as a guide, a rubric for seeking and renewing that sense of amplification. It comes so easily to me in nature and seems so intuitively to be kin to their deaths. Yet when I quiet myself and listen for this amplification in my writing practice, I’ve found that it not only allows me to find more in those memories than I thought I understood, but it also has deepened my attention to everything that comes into my mind to bring to paper. I believe that cultivating this sense of amplification has allowed me to be more alive to the particular sensations and intuitions that are the poem forming itself, sensations and intuitions that may in fact not be about memory at all, but may be about the constantly shifting state of presence that is consciousness.

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