Wordy Weekends: We All Have Reasons for Moving


Tia Paulina Flamenco’s post and the reaction of Secrets of a Balletomane reminded me of a Mark Strand poem I fell in love with as a college sophomore. I remember the angst of that age — feeling unheard, uncertain about who I was and where I belonged, wanting to disappear from events I felt forced to attend, from roles I was expected to fulfill. Something was always missing.

It took a while to realize the void inside could be filled by words. Mark Strand was one of those poets whose words resonated, but who also felt strangely inaccessible — I could relate to the obsession with absence but couldn’t understand his desire for self-effacement (then again, what narcissistic teenager can?).

Today, after writing out the alphabet with my injured ankle (one of my prescribed rehab exercises), I reread this poem, first published in Sleeping With One Eye Open (1964) and again in his Selected Poems (1980):

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

We all have reasons, the poem’s speaker says. And because I can’t help but read dance into everything now — especially since I still have to work my way slowly back up to those big jumps I love — here are my reasons. I move to express what my words cannot. I move to get out of my small mind, to reconnect with my body and what it loves to do, to reconnect with something larger. I make big movements to tell myself that it’s OK to take up space, to claim my place in the world, even if it’s just a little corner of the studio. Rephrasing (and perhaps misreading) Strand, I move to keep myself whole.

What are your reasons for moving?