On the use of the first person subjective

Beginning every line with the pronoun I at once privileges the subject, and renders it suspect.

The boy so taken with his own beauty leans too far into its string of fatal echoes— I, I, I, I, I. Paper whites on the table, reeking with rot and fragrance.

This is why, for a long time, only the use of third person objective is recommended in formal research and writing.

On the other hand, there is no one here I can speak of with more uncertainty than myself.

It takes years before I learn to properly hold a conversation, including on the telephone; before I don’t cringe and sob under the heated net thrown by a camera’s flash cube.

Fear of photographic permanence is equated in some indigenous cultures with fear of the soul’s capture.

In the afternoons, nuns patrol the classroom, beating time with rulers as we practice handwriting loops— right, upright, left. I like this time, though— the silence of focused observation, intermittent flicker from fluorescent lights; the script of rain sliding down windows.

Who is following behind me on the road as I walk home? I don’t mind my damp hems and collar, wet fingers clutching the umbrella: its handle a vertical stroke ending in a rounded curve. The shortest distance: one that rapidly collapses two points.

I look into the hallway mirror at the reflection I already know will have no extraordinary response, apart from being there.

1 Comment

  1. I love this, Luisa. Poets don’t often use grammar as a subject, but that’s sort of like carpenters who never mention nails.


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