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What Counts

On seasonal records.

1.

I’d love to tell you, but the words become ghosts, choking intention. 

2.

Once, they showed their insides, breaking open. 

3.

Meaning tends to expand at the site of the cut.

4.

The next attempt reminds: what is necessary is also impossible.

5.

The space after time’s vanishing has a way of losing its contours.

6.

To compensate, you can try cross-mapping histories to create an architecture of memory.

7.

Now we are inside the stones, now we are their erosion.

8.

By exposing matter, you can revisit its secretive nature. Some colors don’t happen in paint.

9.

The synapses around a single sentence can curl a face into the face of another time.

10. 

We pierced the soft flesh of old monuments. 

11.

A child makes bricks of debris, each block a memory.

12.

If each of these haystacks is another time of day, seeing is what happens between them.

***

Inspired by Monet’s Haystacks.

Intimate Unknowns

A brief encounter.

It was a single date, but memorable.

Who wears a watch anymore? he quipped, except if you are trying to impress.

He was referring to the old watches that just did time. 

Laughing as they entered the restaurant, she removed her coat to reveal a dress made of old watches.

What is this? he asked. 

She had her reasons. It’s been a week of dark dreams, she told him, and she was done with fighting them off. They are creatures too, these memories. She supposed they just needed a home.

Now nervous, he tried to make light. So, do you have the time?

I have all the time in the world, she replied. Take your pick. Every watch was set to a different time.

Suddenly, he remembered something he had to do. There was no time to explain, he told her. Urgent business, he said. So sorry!

She waved as one does from upper deck of an ocean liner at departure, smiling.

What followed was a beautiful meal.

***

Inspired by an encounter with this reference to L. Mylott Manning’s Kiss the Dark.

Feats of Becoming

In mythic memory.

In the days when we knew forms were only provisional, you called Leap! at the sight of the next star. Our metamorphic world buzzed with a panorama of possible and the hours were a cyclic series of somersaults.

We read by the myth from inside its closed shell, unlike the heavy-headed beachcombers trying to recover something lost. From inside, we dissolved selves well enough to forget our tired, temporary names and donned instead originals of dark dimension. In these we splashed back to the undergrounds where the Mothers knew us, to restore the old tales to their first beginnings. We chased the slivering prints of angels’ bare feet to catch them only long enough that they would whisper again the small verse assigned to each of us. This one is yours to bring forth, they told us, one at a time.

In dawn’s purple flame, the branching capillaries of eons swelled our skins, and Time’s wild clowning made us know ourselves at once alive and dead, ending and beginning, never and again. By this light, the world’s creatures seemed to know us, looking back as though waiting to be named.

To Hold Them

On the real work.

At the end of a long day in a long month, I read a hiring notice: Professional Cub Snuggler! it says, and I think, this is something. The work is to wrap baby bears in blankets, hold them in a coat while the mother gets a checkup. 

Now I can’t stop wishing that this was a model for some other things, the practice of stopping in the work week, no matter the job, for the most important work of the week. Time to hold the babies! everyone would say, and the babies would be held, and there would be enough hands so that the ones who had been caring for more babies than they had hands for could take a break and tend to other things, knowing the babies were okay.

There is a trick the handlers use, for getting the orphaned bears accepted. They cover the bark of a tree with a scented goo, and after the birth babies and the orphan run through it, back to mama, they all smell the same. And there’s something in this model, too. 

***

Inspired by this notice: “Dream Job Alert: Michigan DNR is Hiring Bear Cub Cuddlers.”

Ghost Shed

One interpretation of an artist’s role.

I may not know what to write, but it comforts me to have a wall of books between me and the outside. I am remembering the artist who covered walls––and these were high, museum walls––floor to ceiling with framed pages of books. It was tens of thousands of pages at a time, many of them containing these complex numerical representations. It was boggling, tremendous. You knew everything was purposeful, every page in relationship with everything else, but you could not take it in.

Sometimes a person would ask her what she was thinking, and she would not answer. Then, when they walked away, she would say, It’s about time. To a friend, she whispered, Season follows season

Some people evoke shimmering fonts of dizzy admiration, and she was one. Someone told me that she kept goats––three of them, in a shed––but I heard ghosts instead of goats. They had names, these (ghosts)––Micky, Mama Micky, and Kleine Micky––and I thought, that’s her secret! Even though she insisted there was no secret.

I built a sizable shed for my ghosts. This was no easy feat in a small apartment. I brought them food, water, changed their bedding, offered trinkets for them to enjoy. When the time came, I would bury them, as the artist had, in adjacent plots, each with a personalized gravestone.

By the time I learned it was goats and not ghosts that she had been tending, it was too late to change certain habits, especially after having built up whole mythologies to explain why it is that the role of the artist is the proper care and feeding of ghosts.

***

Inspiration for this piece comes from readings on Hanne Darboven

The Edge of Water

Pulled from the stream.

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.

Fevers

And springs.

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.