Originally published in Willow Springs 65
From the author
Notes on “Near-misses”
“Near-misses” began with the last line—the image of the spoon slipping into the soup. But it wasn’t until I’d written the rest of the poem that I realized the soup was beautiful, and that the poem was about how, although I’m sure to die eventually, how lucky I have been to avoid all the other deaths that had their other plans for me.
One of my earliest memories is of crawling up onto the kitchen counter with a fork, ready to stick it into the toaster to fish out a piece of toast. Before I could do it, the toast popped up, and my mother came into the kitchen and told me that if I’d stuck that fork in the toaster, I would be dead. I carry that around with me, somehow, that equation: Fork + Toaster + One Second Longer = None of This. And it makes me feel lucky, and makes everything in my life (on certain days) feel like strange gravy, beautiful extra soup, even aging.
Notes on Reading
At the moment I’m reading Blake, and also Jung’s Red Book. I’m feeling very in love with complex personal mystical systems. I wish I had one, like these, or like Yeats’s A Vision. I visited Blake’s illuminations at the Morgan Library recently, and was amazed by his genius, how unlike any other artist or poet he is. I feel as if that’s the most exciting thing there is, the most incredible experience one could have, to have such visions. Even if they were never rendered, as his were.
I watch other people differently now. People on buses, on park benches, with their eyes closed. I wonder what they might be seeing, and wish I could visit their imaginations the way I got to visit Blake’s illuminations, and appreciate what a lovely, rare thing it is to be able to share a consciousness with some other human being, and am grateful that he had the talent to allow me to do that.
About Laura Kasischke
Laura Kasischke is the author of seven novels and seven collections of poetry, most recently Lilies Without. Her novels include In a Perfect World, Suspicious River, and The Life Before Her Eyes, adapted for film. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts awards. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Michigan. Kasischke lives in Chelsea, Michigan, with her husband and son.