Posts Tagged ‘nothing’

for “the lucky buyer” who “went home with a certificate of authenticity” for an “immaterial sculpture” by Salvatore Garau

What could be more valuable
than nothing? The nothing that
frames “The Thinker,” the nothing
that holds every bowl,
every vase, every bust, every thought.
Let others buy the clay, the steel,
the papier-mâché. I will be satisfied
with nothing more than nothing.
Nothing pleases me. Nothing
enchants me. Nothing,
as Heisenberg says,
has a weight. Just think
of the space here beside me
where you are not.
If someone asks me why
I have a five-by-five-foot
empty space taped off in my home
with a plaque that says I Am,
it is because I am so in love
with nothing. Imagine it—
nothing, the color of happiness,
nothing, the size of love,
nothing, the shape of god.

This poem was published in Rattle’s Poet’s Respond on June 13, 2021

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With its tiny claw chisel
Thursday has chipped
and carved, made cross hatches
and striations in who I thought I was
on Wednesday. Every day
there is less of me, and
every day I am fashioned
more into who I am, this
diminishing work in progress
in which the sculptor never
stops—once I thought
it would take forever to make
me, now there’s so little
left of the block I understand
that only what is not here
will be forever.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer970-729-1838 wordwoman.com
Watch my TEDx talk The Art of Changing Metaphors: TEDX Rosemerry Trommer

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written at the Carmelite Monastery in Crestone, CO

It holds everything, silence,

offers itself as a blank staff

on which every song is written—

the tiny hymn of insect wings,

the baritone of the jet as it flies

from one measure of sky to the next,

the dry requiem of rustling grass,

the emphatic chorus of crow.

How generous, silence,

am I willing to know it?

How it includes even the cough,

the belch, retching, the wailing,

the snarl, the scream, the shatter,

and scores these in concert with the hum,

the lush purr, the whisper of the lover,

the ecstatic tremulo of sigh.

There is no sound it refuses to hold.

Its patience is infinite.

So when we, like weary pilgrims,

tired of hearing the percussion

of our own footsteps, arrive at its doors,

silence receives us, welcomes us home.

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And do nothing, she says.

I think about that as

I shuffle the kids and

make doctor appointments

and edit the pages and


drop off the gifts and reply

to emails and shovel the drive

and read to my daughter

and peel the carrots

and hang up the coats


and all that time, I imagine

sitting for five minutes.

Doing nothing.

Yeah, I should add that

to my list, I think,


as I open the cat food

and stack the bowls.

And there, on the shelf,

between the bowls

and the salad plates,


I feel the nothing

waiting for me, feel

its infinite patience,

feel how it is always here

supporting all this everything.


How generous it is,

I think, suddenly unable

to feel anything

but a longing for nothing,

a longing that lasts at least


fourteen seconds

before I remember

that call I am supposed

to make, that plant desperate

for a drink.

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In the secret temple of my heart

was an altar

with nothing on it—

I love nothing,

the pure potential

of it. Sometimes when others

journeyed here, I sensed

they were surprised,

perhaps even sorry for me,

as if it would better

with a lotus or a cross

or a star or a figurine

or a photo of someone.

Or a stone. Always something.

I tried, in fact, to put things

on the altar, but

no thing let itself

stay. There was a day

when, in a single moment,

the altar had everything

on it, and by everything,

I mean everything—every

bee, every stick, every

plastic bag and beetle,

every crushed empty can,

every crumpled shirt,

every door handle, compass,

broken thermometer, apple,

trashcan, tree, everything.

And it was so beautiful I wept.

For hours. Oh, the pure potential of it!

And then, that altar

was no longer in some secret

temple in my heart,

but everywhere. Everywhere

a place to worship.

Everything a prayer

waiting to be heard,

to be touched.

And inside, the most beautiful

nothing, not even an altar,

which is, oddly, everything.

I can’t say how.

Sometimes, when I am quiet enough,

I notice it. Sometimes, when

I get out of the way, I fall all the way in.

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Eating Dinner with



What gave numbers their power was the very act of naming them and writing them down.

            —Amir Aczel, “The Origin of the Number Zero,” Smithsonian Magazine, December, 2014



Imagine, says my friend, before 700

there was no zero, which means

before that there was no concept

of nothing. In my bowl,

there is only a bit of squash soup left.

I add some salt, take a small bite.

There is less. I remember reading

that numbers exist outside

the human mind. Not like

a John Deere tractor that’s invented.

Not like a sonata that’s composed.

I take another bite of soup.

it is warm and tastes of apple

and thyme. I try to imagine it,

not knowing of nothing.

What would I have said

was in my bowl now that

the soup is gone? What

would I have thought

was in the chair beside me

here where you are not?

How would it change this

all that is, not comprehending

this all that is not?

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One Undoing




blowing all the wishes

off the dandelion—

falling in love with nothing

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The distress signal. There wasn’t one.
Suddenly it was gone. Just gone.
The plane, of course, but also our sense
of what’s possible. How could we lose a plane?
The sky today somehow too big, the ocean
too vast for comfort. It would take only a scrap
of metal wing or a wail of a recorded scream
to set us more at ease—some hint of blame to rest on,
some floating debris to trace. Nothing worse than this nothing.
Nothing. Did a door fail? A meteor hit? Did
the pilot get distracted just enough? Failure
of power? A hijacker plot? It doesn’t help
that the path is unclear. Though it almost always is.
So we do what we know how to do. Make grids.
Analyze. Hypothesize. Offer rewards. Criticize.
Wonder, conjecture and doubt. And resist making peace
with nothing. There must be an answer.
There’s always an answer. 239 people know.
For the rest of us, the sky now too big. And the ocean
too vast. And our questions insatiable, starved
for a slick, for a bit, for a fragment of flight, for
anything, anything, that isn’t this terrible nothing.

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Nothing, how I love you.
Nothing in my hands and nothing
in my thoughts. Nothing between
my everything to do.

You are not mountain nor desert, not wild
nor tame. You are equally not juicy, not dry.
There is no anger in you, no sorrow.
There is no hunger, no longing, no need.

And still you are more yes than no.
You are entirely, uncompromisingly
Nothing. The nothing that holds up
the everything else.

Nothing, I have visited you. Felt
the ever expanding reach of you,
felt myself as nothing, infinite
and everywhere and I did not want to return.

Until there was the tiniest thought of me
that pulled me back into this world
of pomegranates and rivers and lavender
and loss. Nothing, I love you. You are everything I am not.

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Strange Answers

In this experiment,
longing is the constant
and the independent variable
is a many purple petalled thing
and the dependent variable
is song. No. That’s not it.
Perhaps the constant
is blue. And the independent
variable has something to do
with rain, and the dependent variable
is this terrible pain in my leg.
God, I could beg. I will beg,
just make the pain
go away and let the constant be
something more like
the way the sun caught
in the clouds this morning,
which is to say something
not at all constant, not
one bit controlled. This
is the proof, I suppose,
of nothing, the way
it shifts, the way
it constantly changes everything,
even the woman
conducting experiments,
writing conclusions
in chalk on the pavement,
laughing in great waves
as the independent
rain starts again to fall.

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