There is one part of the essay that I'm still thinking about today. Rich quotes John Berger:
“Poetry,” John Berger has written, “can repair no loss, but it defies the space which separates…by its continual labour of reassembling what has been scattered.”I think I write about grief because I am trying to stitch together the shards of my life and myself.
In high school, I took a sewing class and loved it. I loved patchwork most of all because I loved stitching disparate pieces of cloth to form a new design. I saw how, with my own hands, I could connect parts to create a whole.
When writing about grief, when constructing a language for it, I think I have to accept that there will be gaps, that the language will never be complete. There will be lacunae and ellipses, gashes in memory, spaces of ineffability. But I will keep stitching my words together because, although I write extensively about silence and the limits of language, I still believe in language.
Near the end of "Defy the Space That Separates," Adrienne Rich gives the best argument I have read for why language matters and why we need poetry:
We need poetry as living language, the core of every language, something that is still spoken, aloud or in the mind, muttered in secret, subversive, reaching around corners, crumpled into a pocket, performed to a community, read aloud to the dying, recited by heart, scratched or sprayed on a wall. That kind of language.