Just one is quite enough.

A friend sent me 50 pictures of the wonders of nature. Flowers, birds, creatures of the sea, trees. I scroll through them all, marveling. Yet I feel overwhelmed by too much. Just one would have been quite enough. Just one I could have lingered over, impressed it in my mind.

Now I find it hard to choose from this surfeit of images. For that is what characterizes us today. Either a surfeit or a dearth, an insufficiency, a lack. We either have too much, or not enough. Throughout the day, we are assaulted by images. By sounds, by words.  By information of all sorts. Most sounds pass us by unaware. Yet they are there.  Even if we were in a soundproof ambience, there would be sound. That of blood rushing through our veins. The beat of our heart. Sound, like images, coming from the inside. We can no more wipe our minds blank than not hear the beating of our hearts.

Surfeit and dearth. Do we even know what dearth is? What so many are doing without? The most elementary things. Shelter. Food. Warmth. Safety. Italy used to know. Am reading some of the classic Italian authors. Ignazio Silone, Sciascia, others of that period. Aside from Camilleri and Pirandello.

We scroll through the images in our minds, aside from those on our iPhones. The latter can be shared, for the former we have to know how to find the right words. And wonder if those we share with, see and feel what we see and feel. That’s where poems come in. Capturing Cartier Bresson’s “decisive moment”. The way light clings to the edge of a cup, or the loneliness of an empty chair overlooking the sea. But poetry, is also capturing a feeling that cannot be visualized, it is sound that echoes in our heads. It is the warmth of the stone bench caressed by the sun. The harsh cries of the jackdaws darting to their roosting place.

The surfeit of images, if we’re lucky, can precipitate, simmer down, into one and that is what others will recognize as a poem. 

One thought on “Surfeit

  1. I’ve been thinking about this post ever since I listened to it and read it, and not as an entirely disinterested party. That’s because I admit to being the friend in question who sent what turned out to feel like an overwhelming number of photos. But even if they were not particularly welcome, I am very intrigued by what Erika has made of that situation. If it inspired the meditation with which she gifts us here, it was worthwhile.

    I agree that today we are vulnerable to being bombarded by a surfeit of images, information—well, just about everything. Yet, while I can appreciate the beauty of a single photo like the one that accompanies this post, and I can admire what Erika writes here about the power of a poem, I often find myself in love with the joy that a symphony of many colors, textures, and complementary images in a series can offer. Some photos are meant to be viewed as a series…underlining the variety, beauty and complexity of the planet we share.

    In general, it’s easy for me to become overwhelmed. But then to be able to say “My cup runneth over” also feels like a gift.


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