Dante calls hirsute those pebbles among words that stop the flow of verse along its course. Like "multiple consonants, silence, exclamations" Combed, he says, is the opposite Your pubic hair which didn't interrupt your belly, "combed" Hirsute the fragmentation of your names I always said together, one clashing with the other: Alix Cleo. Where the missing vowel sign was: 'naked.' What was hirsute in your nakedness was not the pitch- black hair around the moisture where my tongue would drain you Not your nakedness, your name. Saying it, on coming with you.
i almost didn't see the poppy. in fact, at first i didn't see the poppy at all. i saw only what i knew in that moment, orange, and i married it with what i knew from my history, tiger lily. i saw it in reflection in my neighbour's window from my son's upstairs bedroom window and so i ran downstairs and outside after it. but even with its petals (so like the thinnest of papers) trembling as i carried it inside by the root, i did not think poppy. i could not. i did not know a poppy in my hand. i knew it in other's but could not fathom one in my own.
i brought the poppy inside, hoping that bringing it in by its root would mean that it would survive longer. it did not. in fact i probably accelerated its death by hitching it to the weight of its other life, not allowing it the natural life of a cut flower during which the larger cut surface would enable it to draw water in quickly. (what is life, growing from the earth only or also the last dogged hydrated rigor of the body? and when does death begin?)
an hour and a half and the poppy was drooping.
three hours later the poppy was dead.
this sentence came into me yesterday (june 5th) after making love, the body is time.
Reisterdam. 6 am. outside my fourth story window fog swallows the courtyard in a fist. it is a sign? damn signs. i can wait for no one, nothing. i cross the floor barefooted, past noticing the dirt grinding into my feet. (but i tell you, so i have not quite succeeded.) it has been weeks since i've lifted a broom. days since i've eaten. more since i've washed. all a practice. i pull the cord on the light bulb hanging above the bathroom sink. ooph, my face is haggard. deep pockets of purple and black line my eyes. my pores spill outward, caverns of what? my jawline is set like the curb of a street broken by stubble, garbage, shards of glass. a sense of history? damn history. that is what today will be, a damning of history. oh, how badly i smell. good. let it be so. thank god my body is listening. i lift my shirt, touch the ribs that protrude as though i touch another. this is my body? how can that be so? i am inside it? what can that mean? i hear a car move, what seems to be furtively, down the road in front of the apartment. i have learned that to wind myself tightly like wire on a spool is the same as laying myself out like pounded thin sheet metal, so thin as to be undetectable. in two hours Reisterdam, on an ordinary day, would be bustling. but today is the day of the holy transformation. i begin by cutting my hair, grabbing handfuls of mange and letting it fall to the sink. once Reisterdam was good to me but that was before knowledge. and now what do i know? i know there is nothing to know. Reisterdam! you think there is no pain in my soul? it is all and only pain. Reisterdam! you could not save me. i drink one cup of bad coffee, drinking through to the grounds and leave my cup on the table dirty, as it should be, nothing else. for how many years did i say, please, Reisterdam? how many years with no answer?
leaving the stoop i am unseen entering the fog.
i understand now how it adds up to this. i understand now how it can add up to nothing else.
over the fog something black glides not quite like a bird.
are you listening? there are children dying, their bellies scraped bearer than bowls being hollowed out in their formation. such cruelty, the unmade bowls that will never be filled. women being raped, their legs tied upon their heads like ribbons. somewhere a man holds up a gun and blows off the face of another man thinking the black badge of being alive is some kind of salvation. i have a broken tooth that fills with rot in between two healthy ones!
the Mennonite wagon trotting down the street is splitting caterpillars easier than my fingers can separate hair.
my cat is squalling deaf and lost in the middle of the lighted room two feet from where i sit.
the world hulks over there upon the terrible plain, done, defined. to approach its face directly is to traverse the scorching light and deafening blows of regularity. all dies there trapped in the life of limbo language in ordinary body. nothing can survive the slots but words.
instead, close your eyes and feel your way blindly toward it, only and always toward it, never arriving. allow in your life's time to be lost failing miserably but in exultant sentient salutation. be the miraculous translation.
downstairs stuart mclean's stories transition seamlessly into fluid jazz. outside the cars drive through thick puddles creating endless zippers on the road. i remember in the sound all of my history. i sit thinking upstairs near a window by the bed. i like how the too large sheets wrap the bed not fitting but not pulling from it either. i like how the sheets are stained with us. i like how the cat fur marks the bedspread and how the cat's head pushes determined at the hand holding this pencil as i write. downstairs the children murmur, discussing things important in relative proportions. tomorrow my husband comes.