And the rest of us, watching.
The jumping spiders are dreaming. You can tell because the babies have translucent skin. Watch the eyes behind it, back and forth. Notice the twitching legs.
What are they doing? One of us asks. The theory is that they are trying to make sense. Whatever they dream about, it may help them jump better when they wake. It may help with direction, takeoffs, landings. Which, we have to admit, is more than any of us can say about our spider dreams.
The birds are doing it, too, another observes. Watch the feathers, how they twitch on drooping heads. The sleeping cephalopods turn wild colors, sending signals with urgency.
What we are wondering seems uncouth to ask. But chances are that there is one in any given assembly who is relatively immune to propriety, so we wait for the silence to break.
Do you think they see us? Says the one, When they . . .?
No answer is forthcoming. In the next hush, we notice that it isn’t clear which answer we want. In the long quiet that follows, we sleep.
Inspired by Carolyn Wilke’s recent Knowable article on emerging research into the REM sleep patterns of various creatures.
Say it’s a last day. Say the seagull knows. Say this is the explanation for that seeming pointed look where it stops just now on this eye-level post. There are these urgent clouds at the horizon, the edge of a tongue frayed toward song. Bodies inflected against the tide. To be washed, a quiet instrument waiting. If our dead watch, let someone play me now. That I may praise it, too.
In the waiting room, I wanted
to say–––something, because
such places, with their anxious hum
always seem to want relief. From
the pretense of containment,
or into song. But when it was time
I left and the hot wind hit
my eyes which slid across
folded falcon wings as if
to learn how my own hands
clutching plastic bags
might know that poise.
A nest nearby, its swallow
gone, a lilting plainsong
behind me. I turned, eyes
wide, to trace the mouth
of the storm’s long suggestion
in the ears as though to
blow me empty. Howl,
I wanted then, as now, to
share some sighting
with another face.
That you may one day know a lens not terror, a posture not crouched, sounds neither siren nor drone, and weathers unrhymed with death count. Food to offer, not to reap, and time as a ladle to be passed to the tune of Here, take it. Take what you need. Did you get enough? when no host will rest until everyone is so full that they lose the count, numbers blurring back into beginning, and no one thinks to save the light for when it leaves us.
Records and their keeping.
Consider the active
of time’s face
on a cloth
at her breast,
her name still
And other ancient mysteries.
Just the other day, we were discussing how it might be a good idea for us to pay close attention to the most enduring species, given our current trajectory. And then you showed up, looking like an underwater plant. Spineless, with branching appendages, radial arms, each like a feather. Where did you keep your fists, and how did you get this far without the opposable thumbs we so prized? What about your capacity for reason? Did you even have reasons? Name one, we challenged, but you were silent.
What you did was something else, and we couldn’t look away. You went on and on, catching what drifted before you. What you lost––namely, arms––you regrew. There is something here, we think. About the way you present as a walking plant, hiding in plain sight. We were trying to name it when you moved away. We were surprised by your speed. We wondered about your purpose but had to surface for air.
Then we went inland and sat by the banks of a river, the site of another flood. Being creatures prone to contemplation, we often sat at the edges of water bodies, looking for some way to understand the movement between life and loss. When the waters receded, we would see the crowns of drowned monuments, and these would knock against ancestral bones. And we would think of things to notice. Like how the river must know every stone it touches, and these. They went on, knocking, and we left.
Inspired by feather stars.
Window, lens, hand, soul.
You appeared on a certain corner every evening with your camera, to enact a ministry of light. Recalling childhood, you arrived in the circle’s fullness each time. Former strangers worked with you. You created each image together. This is how you said, I know you.
Every moment was a breath of spirit. In this world of surface illusion, you reached your illuminating hand, your goal always, touch me, touching you.
By devotion to the details of flesh and fracture, shadow and shade, the drape of traffic lights over wet pavement, each frame became a reminder: look at us here, in the same image.
Those birds are one creature. Those ants are one creature. Gathered on the corner in the glow of wet streetlights, one creature. And you took it all in, and said, we are here to work out our fear of being.
Inspired by the work and spirit of Khalik Allah, as generously shared in an interview with J. P. Sniadecki in BOMB.
Shoveling silence over buried forms, brush the night with dark lashes. Wait. The memory of suffering suffers the memory of love. And yet, it will make you drunk on the idea of losing what was never yours.
Make yourself a deer. Run a bright flash of sinew over wet grass, until you get to the shore of the day where you witness a rising wave and the sound of a whispered I am. Find that you still hold a glowing flame, tiny and quivering, at the back of a breath.
Notes while reading an excerpt from “Deluge” as it appears in The Hélène Cixous Reader.
When we went without counting, light shows played across our eyelid curtains, and language curled around us like cats, love-biting our hands, ears, toes–––inclined neither to obey or defy us. We would lick its back in turn. It would sleep on our bare chests. The water taught us flight. If the clock watched us then, we never met its gaze.
It was so, so, so.
[Much? Or little? Who thought to measure? Not us.]
We grew spaces from the back alleys of our breaths, filled them with song. Laughing, we spilled it everywhere, the new world baptized, each feeling a benediction.
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.