Juliana Spahr’s “and still a ship fuels up and slips out of port” (41) is similar to Oppen’s shipwreck of the singular. Spahr’s ship has to do with the collective innateness of humanity, this same innateness she speaks of when she says
“I speak of how I cannot understand our insistence on separations and how these separations have nothing and everything to do with the moments when we feel joined and separated from each others” (21).
Though a mouthful, I believe Spahr is simply trying to get at the innate shared something that makes the individual a collective, because of its innateness in each of us. The insistence on separation has “nothing” to do with these moments because it is innate and is going to happen, to be, anyway. At the same time it has “everything” to do with these moments because we are reactionary beings.
Her ship that continues to slip out of port at night is at first ordered by someone, but then becomes just the ship itself, as an entity with a mind of its own with its own ticking motor, fueling itself up and slipping out.
There is an important transition from:
“And yet still someone somewhere tells ships to refuel and then to slip out of port in the night”
“and still a ship fuels up and slips out of port”.
There is an innate turning over that occurs to the “someone” that causes them, despite their reactions to everything that has just happened or is happening, to make or follow the choice to fuel the ship up. There is a manipulation here that is handed to humans. This is taken away in the next part, which I find scary. Now it is just the ship that fuels up and slips out unnoticed. The hand that fuels it is taken away. This is a larger comment on the workings of the world: they are unstoppable. This taking away of our hands in things comes from the our initial innate setting of them in motion. It is this taking away of our manipulation of the world, which now continues on guided by an invisible hand, that has nothing and everything to do with our separation and our confusion over our separation. Like Oppen, Spahr is
By the shipwreck
Of the singular.