What speaks from silence.
After birth, I looked for a place to dance, but his web was everywhere. It was made of metaphors designed to capture life and lives, including mine. I learned to be still, as the living will do, noticing how everything that had happened went on, an eternal past.
Here comes another of the old men of fallen monuments, still craving to be mourned, to find the host of a living body to feed the death drive, taking everything in reach until the buffer between here and madness is gone.
He speaks of himself with pity, as though speaking of a god-like friend that had bid him a final farewell. Nearby lives were rafts, the impulse to grab, the refrain always mine.
Now I want only to un-forget myself, to make her un-forgotten, unsilenced, unearthed, to sing a voice I have stitched myself from smooth sheets of shining dark. To save the orange that this hand once knew and heard, the globe of its peace. How my palms once kissed its skin to feel the volume of its liquid pulse into lifelines.
Adapted from Hélène Cixous’s Angst, as well as Vivre I’orange/To Live the Orange.
Following crumbs, far from home.
When our rhymes ran off with the sheep,
trees fell, and then people from windows.
Goodnight moon, we whispered.
The cows ran after it. Jack knocked
over the stick, another forest
burned. Ashes, ashes.
Another statue had a great fall:
the unclothed emperor of the wall
by which the city blocks the sun.
See how they run, our minds
in time. The farmer had a dog,
and the dog went first.
There has to be a better story.
It sings somewhere,
of the dark times.
It does not rhyme. Apollo
in a minor key, now
the obvious path.
Still, a song exists.
Here, from this dense
Once, certain attentions were considered advancement, conditioned as we were to equate the sense of nascent excitement with progress, and to make of this a god, and we did not recognize the beginning of a fall, into an agony long as life. Neither anguish nor inertia could resist its pressure.
Only by taking absence back from silence can anyone be protected.
Here, a voice. It says, Come, says Now.
You are not condemned. Rise. It is time for another birth. You can scratch a way into life again, from memories still unlearned.
Rhythms of earth tongues, come out. I give these primitive liberties forms to evade surveillance of that principle bent on separation of bodies from themselves and one another, that enacts bars of murderous purity masquerading as sensible grammars.
The nocturnal creatures know me. They sit in my lap, lap from my hands, and laugh at the extent of your fears. We only eat prey, love, announce the joyful birds.
Separate us all you like. Each solitude only offers another rebirth. With each, we widen the net of our bodies. We become the looming canopies connecting at altitudes and depths, above and beneath the walls you drive yourself mad with the effort of erecting in your endless quest to extract Resource from Source. You make a god to coddle your greed, and the dragon laughs.
Will you look at this face? No, you can’t bear it, finding in its gaze the endless points of no return, each now a star in the night you claimed to conquer. Our skins fallen from us, we move from their weight and your ability to trace.
When the last wall is built, the last stone in place and the weight of its prowess inverts and you find yourself entombed in a solitary well, calling, who will hear you but the lowest, who come and go among these depths, and the dead?
Then, the light moved from us, and with it, those familiar unknown bodies that used to catch and dance with it, and the water went dark. Then we wondered, but there was no one to ask. Why had we made an audience of these creatures, when we might have gathered sooner to witness? What they were.
Sometimes we survived by finding points of comparison between one impossible situation and another in which the sufferer was redeemed––not, perhaps, by the story itself, and certainly not by the suffering, but somehow by the lens that framed their seeming isolation within an often-invisible chorus of others who had been singled out and separated with intention to erase. An old story: the slash and burn of innate acres of wild no-man’s land. So much is predictable about the murder of wilds. And yet, the endlessly inventive processes of emergence and renewal by which life manages to survive to sing another day––so frequently evokes such stunned awe that its witness will be left unable to describe what took my breath away––as if to remind us, bearers of these weary sighs, of the astonishing abundance that still lives, even now, even here in this burning place.
What breaks from silence.
What many called danger, often sickness, was her resistance. What she resisted was death, and so became known for the trouble she made.
Torrents of unnamed elements suffused her. They referred to these––when they spoke of her at all––as her darkness.
Warn the children. Don’t enter the forest. The little boys especially, at risk of being cooked in her hearth. These are early lessons. They are called stories and not executions. The most effective captors work invisibly.
We left home, entered the moving current. A voice of flesh consumed us, and we were danced in her swells. Who is to be born now, we wondered, with all of this touched at once, her proud body immersing us in the music of first lessons and the rush of her in our ears like, This, this, this! She hushed the time for signs to show us. Unless this, no genesis, no catastrophe, no words.
Inspired by Hélène Cixous’s 1975 fiction “Souffles” (“Breaths”), which is the first of a series of texts in which she explores loss and rebirth in relation to the mother.
What, then, have you won? Give me No One’s name. Having long since rejected the assumptions of the acolytes of progress, I am gone from the metaphor that makes the conquest of my seeming forms its mark.
––And with that, from your ordered pairs: Nature/ Mind; Nature/ History; Nature/Art. You claim victory in classification and find structure only in subjection, erasure, my silence. You assume I am quiet now, but the frequency of this song is beyond your hearing.
What was the point of your logic, except to keep me? I am not the end, but the reach. This body is no monarchy, and neither are these wants, invisible to the lens trained on contours. This tongue of a thousand tongues speaks sound without border or death.
I do not guard myself from breaking into endless unknowns, refusing life nothing that it passes through this unnamed constellation of shifting membranes, and not one contains a subject you can recognize. Come away from the shadow of your scepter and see.
If time was the fire, you entered barefoot and unmasked to spin within its heat, collecting what you could until it was time to march again. You stepped from it and promised to return, bending low to gather the fathers you carried on your back.
You dreamed of warm houses in winter. Your dream had humor, then its genius thickened. You bloomed into ruin, the heavy bear. And yet.
Somehow, sparks from the fire you absorbed continued to flicker after your lonely death, and other strangers––heaving, heavy bears, baring ourselves––marching long nights with the weight of dead fathers on our backs, would see it, and keep on.
Inspired by the life, work (and untimely death) of Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966).