When the veil slips against this grip against the fire of high noon, and there’s no recourse but to take in the full face of a day’s madness, no words can help me bear it, each too round unto itself, biting its tail.
I slipped into the stream again, dead weight at your shoulder, the nebulae of closed eyes until the saving tongue of salt lime chased my veins back into themselves and you shone me a remedy.
The words go on biting their tails. None can help me bear this love, when only the living will do.
In the hour of haunted terrain,
a sliver of myth-time ruptures
at the center of the labyrinth.
Moons blink from our faces
to flood the walls transparent.
By damp light of fallen stars
in nearby leaves, we run.
Blame the rude lift of shaggy grasses in the hot breath of wind, or blame the running horses for allowing our approach, or the unknown forces hiding behind facades of lifelessness, the array of them unlimited as the wild of fallen feathers in the last song of the dreariness we pretended to know before the brooding effigies of childhood toys wept us forward to long-dormant animal screams, to be caught by the insouciant tongue of this luxuriant lush where bur clumps catch the skin and horseflies shine mad at midday against a chorus of swarms convulsing at the grate.
Blame this teasing glimpse of spring for returning these creatures to something more than what we were in our cold rooms of polite decorum, before our days shed silver scales to this teeming fever, to reveal the honeysweet fire of protuberant growth, dripping conduits of some fierce insistence too raw to submit to any address more refined than the primordial word for teasing us back into this unnamed all.
When the fog lifts
for a moment, let us
make something to help
us find ourselves when it
descends again. No finished works,
I found you where we were children, and you found a way to bend a certain recipe toward the collection crowding my pockets, slowing my chase. In surrender, I removed the lot of it in pieces and placed each on the table. Tell me, love, I asked you. What is it?
You took a stamp and sewed it to your shirt, held a button to your reflection, and the shard of a mirror you pressed into an album to save the memory of someone looking back. We chased to catch ourselves back to running from what teased our terrors, tempting catch me! and you can’t!
I feared the years would fell me first, but you did, and from the rest of what is saved if you wait I can still make you a meal and we will raise a glass to the hour of these signs, from this shelter of broken time.
Thinking I might better hold what I meant not to lose, I tried to secure the shadow, but there was life again, trying to occur. Like the memory of a dream. Like the dream that never happened. Like the bottomless past and the future’s ancient heart.
A small part of me is flesh. The rest is myth. The rest is webbed with the enfleshed stories of more others than I know. No, I do not know myself. Except that I am no one, and only when no one shows up, can anybody be here. The cat suggested this. She seems to understand these things, so I said to the cat, cat. will you elaborate? But she has yet to grant this request. Or perhaps she has been magnanimous and elaborated extensively, and I have missed it again. She has frequently suggested that I am missing most of what is happening at any given time.
So here I am, this knotted soul so tangled that pulling only draws it tighter, with the words flying off and these colors threatening to absorb me completely into their seas. I hear a sea now, but I cannot tell you which one it is. It is likely I could not stand such knowing, that it would break me back into shards of every becoming, and now is not the time for being able to stand any more of what catches in the narrow tributary of this full throat.
With exhaustion’s heavy fog rolling thick against the day, it is too much to find the lines of the perimeters I am expected to seal. Then comes a dovetail reversal. Fever burns a midday sun’s cruel brilliance, blinding against the snow. The long melt follows but still not the lines. Hands defy the premise of trespass, insisting. Here is no territory, but soil.
You ask where the time is going. I can’t answer. Someone calls, inside! I look to where we came from, and the door stands ajar, its half-open hesitancy hiding some threshold creature, looking back.
For whom I, on the other side of its pause, must be another threshold creature, looking back.
In quiet devotion from within the crowd, you witness the sway of a collective in song, knowing this moment in transit a destination of its own, and call it Train Church. You seek out parallel moments, always from within. The stream crossing, the waiting line, the dancers, the cave. Outsiders wanted spectacle and you pushed back with ordinary life. The long looks of tired eyes over the horizon from the middle of a field, breaking from the labor of the day. The hanging clothes of late parents on a bare pole against a concrete wall. Shaded interior of a kitchen, ethereal light through pleated rayon curtains. The mist pushing against easy meaning, smoke against certainty, dust against the definition of forms. No, the magic won’t be captured, you insisted. Chasing shadows to witness, atmosphere to witness, sediments to witness––faces, in long attention, patient. Insisting, here is only the beginning of sight. Look again.
Inspired by the art and practice of Santu Mofokeng (1956-2020).
In response to the question of what any of this is, you offered an alternative. Forget all that, you said, and come inside. We moved among your impossible bodies. Stair spindles became towers of refuge, ventilation gates morphed into window frames. You took the leather skins of sacred texts and stitched one house at a time. You stitched a neighborhood of these, suspended from the ceiling. Welcome! You called. What you gave us was neither nature nor a matter of belief, but their shapeshifting beyonds. Here is an intricate network of colored glass, the view unbound by familiars. That you may better see inside you, you offered, and out again.
Inspired by the work of mixed-media artist Chiffon Thomas.
There’s an idea that water was inherited from a cloud that long preceded the sun, that the cloud evolved from the heat around each newborn star, that the heat so melted the gases and dusts around it that they became something else, and that this something else floated out there in the vast dark for entire forevers, without even a name; that before it was known to us as oceans, and rivers, as life itself, it was just drifting between the other bodies, neither planet or star, comet or asteroid, silently evolving rains and ablutions, storms and sailors, mermaids and the notes we’d pass in bottles overseas, wondering and telling no one; swelling with the fluid of waiting cells and someday wombs, gilled figures and baptisms, rebirths and ritual baths and wild slaps of newborn hands against its sudden surfaces, but what does it take to wait eons, drifting and holding these potentials under a veil of vast nothing, until the moment comes for surrounding a single body in a single time, that will remain for many more eons unnamed, that will remain for many more eons no time at all, in the vast void before the beginning, and be so moved by the body and the moment that you let it all go, everything you are, the body dissolving the last of itself to make the first rain?