Reverie, with two absences and the uncanny

Two students skip your evening
graduate seminar to go to a movie.
How do you know? You see their happy
faces on social media, bathed in the glow
of a streetlight or the marquee; or maybe
it’s the shine of highlighter. You’re curious:
what did they see that was more captivating
than Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space,
first published in 1957, in which he talks
about the world as a house, the world as nest,
the metaphysic of corners, the dialectic
illustrated by a snail half in and out
of its shell? Sight says too many things
at the same time. Being does not see itself.
Perhaps it listens to itself.
With so many inviting
surfaces in the world, it’s possible the grey
space of the classroom— with its standard-
issue blinds and chair-desks, its whiteboard
and motorized pull-down screens— just isn’t
nest-like enough. From the depths of a plush-
covered chair in the darkened theatre, or at home
in fleece pajamas and cozy bunny slippers, it’s
easy to contemplate the world as a place
that exists because we can dream it. But isn’t
it hard to tell sometimes between the dream
that’s dream and the dream that’s plain
existence, dressed in desire or fear? Remember
the pale monster in the underworld that the child
awakens because she takes two pieces of fruit
from his buffet table? He gropes for his eyes
and pops them back into their sockets in the palms
of his hands. He would have eaten her whole, left
only hair and bones and a pile of her clothes
on the floor, if she hadn’t remembered
to draw with a piece of chalk a door—

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