Occasional Speech

Long gaze, rolled tight.

On occasion we would notice it was possible to feel nearer to the ancient untouchables of distant tongues, then know them out of reach. Was there a time when the myth did not begin with broken parts? We could not say, knowing only heroes against horizons, shells shattering into light then back to dust––but first, another genesis. And then, and then––

Head on bed of moss before battle. Song. Oceans rising into dream without rest, yet the eyes still lift. Up and out they go, flying off.

But it was possible to learn to wrap the long gaze tight in folds of worn cloth while folding what was freshly scorched from the machine, to bring them up again to sort among the boxes and all still left unsaid between unseen and seeing.

Kitchen Math

Exercises in not counting the cost.

One was always hungry. Two offered what she had until the cabinets were empty. When One was still hungry, Two found the last can of mixed nuts in a drawer. One ate them.

Then it was silent, and the silence made One feel a certain kind of way. “Best to say something now,” One thought. Something positive!

“Hey, Two,” One said, “Remember when you used to bake cakes? Why don’t you do that anymore?”

In the silence that followed, Two took a long breath.

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