Visit: to go and see. How casually we speak of the act, and yet. To see anything as it was before is to replace memory for presence. Some images have a way of offering reminders. For example, here is the edge of a sleeve, slightly frayed. Here a new scar. There, a cracked pot under a drain. I thought I knew this place, but where are these objects in time? I cannot place them, so I hold here, suspended.
Having the kind of travel experience that offers certain reminders. Such as: how likely it is that whatever the itinerary, it will be subverted; whatever the projected arrival time, it is probably just a theory; that a theory will continue to be offered, because we like to have one, even if we know it will probably fall through; that whatever belongings we thought we would have with us may not arrive.
And yet, here we are, and we have yet to need the emergency exits or the inflatable vests. And we sleep, eventually and somewhere. Our carefully made plans and carefully packed items can be replaced. But not this one, sleeping. Her quiet breath. I used to wake in the middle of the night to check for it. May I remember this. And know that if we are anywhere with nothing but these breaths, the stunning abundance when they continue to arrive in time.
There is a mind that keeps close watch on the dew-slick grass, hopping low, head turned to hear what crawls, to find what fuels the next flight. After this, a watcher in the window, low chirps from whiskered mouth, the fine hairs of the tail feather-tuned with exquisite precision. Another eye will notice how that which manages to still be finely tuned to details in their liquid form while retaining the soft pliancy of a chest-sleeper is enough to swell some subcutaneous expanse behind the ribcage, preparing to soar from what seems to contain its swell. There is temporal awareness, temporary sight. And there is space, breathing enough of nothing to make room for the next renewal.
Look, I’m not here to lecture you. If I was, you’d know. Then you’d think, not your wheelhouse, is it? And you’d be right. In lieu of a lecture, I have a proposition. What shall we eat, play, flay today? Sashay, maybe––or love, gut, burrow, swim?
I vote dance. Are you coming? Pray? Oh, I see. You are not going to do any of these, are you? Your face says it all: you’re going to stay right there, aren’t you? Until you figure out the poem.
Sigh. Not that you’re listening, but really? Of all the ways to be, you choose that one. And now you want to know what I mean.
Let’s go see the animals!
This is of language, the sound and sight of it, the signature and sign. The undoing of signs. The shattering of symbols, the gong of their echo. Notice this tongue as medium, as manipulated, manipulating music, a polyvalent creature in motion, now still. Oops, there it goes again. Got it. Sort of. To borrow an expression. This is a form of attention. Here, touch it.
Warm a face, toast a fool, repeat.
One more time.
Here is water. Drink. No, I mean it. We have plenty.
Check the score. Later, stress how little it matters.
Say, who cares about the score? Say, that isn’t what
this is about. Say we are getting close and here we go.
What time is it? How much. How long this is.
Here you go. Make it better. Do you need.
Do you need? Can I bring you. You should
come with. I can bring you. We have.
We have. We have. Take it, someone.
In the beginning, it was all about the spectacle of the created world. The chopping off of parts, the restoration, like Tah-dah! Over time, it became more interesting to work on making the stage disappear, to discuss how the engineering works and who it’s for. With a great show, the performance is always for a specific member of the audience.
What’s worth examining now is not the tah-dah, but the questions–– how is that working? and what’s next? There can be more revelation in how the problems and confusion play out. When someone struggles in a real way, they are less self-conscious. Something peeks through.
The title of this post comes from a play created by an interesting collaboration between playwright Lucas Hnath and magician Steve Cuiffo and the voice is adapted from comments made by both artists in various interviews on their developing work.
City of the sun, salve my sins and give me second skins in half-off drive-thru plastic packets with a color for every fluorescent mood, forget the shadow. Food’s first rush shakes the rattle, hard- fisted billboards of it banging now, now, now at the table. One day I’d like to meet someone––city, are you listening your eyes in every limb the undulating spread of you––someone across the table draped in shade, can you imagine in the radiant quiet of those hands, another pulse?
Where mystery fell marching to
our exile, we lifted its mass
from the ditch to hold
it behind our coats, our lips,
to wrap our bodies
around its form,
Faces may deceive, but the back
Between us, a single question
loops a mute refrain.
Inspired by the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz. The title of this post comes from some of the figures that she created.
How to work a running stitch.
What kind of poet would I be if I couldn’t fix a seam? You asked, incredulous, adding, you know, it’s not rocket science. When the language got too tight around our necks you said Look and undid the top buttons, like There and How hard was that? and it was obvious we had a long way to go.
I mean to live, you said, and invited us to join you, running––your kites on laundry lines, your great river piping underground, leaking secrets from the dripping faucets of our fourth-floor walk-up. Your hero at the mop, finishing a shift while the oracle she’s come to visit goes fishing for change in her apron.
The legs of our love tended to falter. Fatigued, we wondered how you kept yours onward. Once, ascending a hill, you reminded, don’t look up. You can follow the street as well as the sky, and as we looked for your next words you called back, not even at me, striding ahead. Eventually, we learned to follow the backs of your legs and fall into a rocking trance. The grates of sewers punctuating our periphery, we found our breaths in time with the river below us, and as the miles went on, stitched our single body back to some subterranean source.
Inspired by Anne Winters, especially Night Wash.