Yes, I am still writing
about my mother. About my
mothers. About the ways
in which they became
who they were to me; but
long before that: to, for,
and from each other. How
not even the years can fade
the quality of their scent,
the gestures that remain
embedded in every piece
of furniture, in every green
ceramic mixing bowl that survived
the years of their marriage to make
its way into mine, with all
the hairline cracks spread across
the surface. Yes, I am still
writing about my questions, about
the thousand thousand ways a whisper
carries even in the absence of wind
from out of the depths of a cabinet
emptied of its secrets. Because
the end of a story is only
convention, because convention
dictates whose names may appear
on registers and documents
and deeds, as well as who
doesn't get to inherit.
But inherit we all do—if not
the shape of an eyebrow
then the places moles turn up,
giveaway signs on the map
of the weathering body: saying
you too have a penchant for men
of a certain age, or you too
love the texture and frill
of a garment for the way
it seduces the mind into thinking
it might forget what histories
groped and penetrated you in that
loamy dark before you came to be.
"A single swarm can contain up to 150 million
locusts per square kilometer of farmland." - Associated Press
They are not dark tears from a pharaoh's eyes,
nor a belt of bees unloosed from a titan's
distant tower. Their flight path is not
a channel clogged with vessels of trade
or commerce. They are together
a dark body on whose surface is a mouth
made of very fine short hairs. They sense
the quality of air and can hover
for days and days in the wind.
They are said to be patient
and can withstand extended periods
of deprivation. Along the edges of the sky
they find small openings in which
they can spiral without cease. How many
creatures can hear the sounds of the world
and of frightened cows through the ear
in their abdomen, or feel the color green?
Up, and to the office, where busy all the morning. Here my Lord Bruncker would have made me promise to go with him to a play this afternoon, where Knipp acts Mrs. Weaver’s great part in “The Indian Emperour,” and he says is coming on to be a great actor. But I am so fell to my business, that I, though against my inclination, will not go. At noon, dined with my wife and were pleasant, and then to the office, where I got Mrs. Burroughs ‘sola cum ego, and did tocar su mamelles so as to hazer me hazer. She gone, I to my business and did much, and among other things to-night we were all mightily troubled how to prevent the sale of a great deal of hemp, and timber-deals, and other good goods to-morrow at the candle by the Prize Office, where it will be sold for little, and we shall be found to want the same goods and buy at extraordinary prices, and perhaps the very same goods now sold, which is a most horrid evil and a shame. At night home to supper and to bed with my mind mighty light to see the fruits of my diligence in having my business go off my hand so merrily.
morning is in India
and tomorrow the candle will be sold
for the same old light
to see the fruit in my hand
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 15 January 1667.
Talk, we say.
Why don't we know
how to talk. Nobody says
anything, or nobody says
what anyone really wants
to hear or to say under
the words. It's like
trying to figure out how
to lift the hem of rain
as it lengthens, coming
down. We cup our hands:
there is so much of it
we cannot hold.
Mount Vesuvius eruption: Extreme heat
"turned man's brain to glass" - BBC News
Before the blanket and surge,
before the seared
arms of trees. We would have been
face-down in bed, lying
along the sandbar, wondering
at the rattle in the throat
of the sky and the sudden
radiance, distilling all
we ever knew or remembered.
Uncovered from sand—obsidian
sliver, spherulites, feldspar.
Up, and to the office, where busy getting beforehand with my business as fast as I can. At noon home to dinner, and presently afterward at my office again. I understand my father is pretty well again, blessed be God! and would have my Br John come down to him for a little while. Busy till night, pleasing myself mightily to see what a deal of business goes off of a man’s hands when he stays by it, and then, at night, before it was late (yet much business done) home to supper, discourse with my wife, and to bed. Sir W. Batten tells me the Lords do agree at last with the Commons about the word “Nuisance” in the Irish Bill, and do desire a good correspondence between the two Houses; and that the King do intend to prorogue them the last of this month.
up and to war
under a god of business
man’s hands stay the night
our common nuisance
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 14 January 1667.
of the bees from hives
collapsing from within;
of the mouse-sized dunmarts
and cockatoos, the wallabies
and koalas that firefighters
worked feverishly to save;
of the towns that woke
as the mouth of a crater
spewed pent-up heat
and ash; of the blood or
of the bowels and their
discharge from the body:
of the organs made empty
or void; of the place
or position one used to hold
but is now forced to abandon
or give out; of withdrawal
from a place in some
for safety or in
(Lord’s day). Up, and to church, where young Lowther come to church with Sir W. Pen and his Lady and daughter, and my wife tells me that either they are married or the match is quite perfected, which I am apt to believe, because all the peoples’ eyes in the church were much fixed upon them. At noon sent for Mercer, who dined with us, and very merry, and so I, after dinner, walked to the Old Swan, thinking to have got a boat to White Hall, but could not, nor was there anybody at home at Michell’s, where I thought to have sat with her et peut être obtain algo de her-which I did intend para essayer. So home, to church, a dull sermon, and then home at my chamber all the evening. So to supper and to bed.
if they married the match
to eyes fixed upon noon
and the old
swan to a boat
could any hell have
a dull sermon
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 13 January 1667.
Up, still lying long in bed; then to the office, where sat very long. Then home to dinner, and so to the office again, mighty busy, and did to the joy of my soul dispatch much business, which do make my heart light, and will enable me to recover all the ground I have lost (if I have by my late minding my pleasures lost any) and assert myself. So home to supper, and then to read a little in Moore’s “Antidote against Atheisme,” a pretty book, and so to bed.
lying long I make
my heart light
the ground my antidote
Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 12 January 1667.
There's an experiment I read about
where they laid a sheet of Plexiglas
like a bridge between two raised,
solid surfaces, and coaxed babies
to crawl across to the other side.
Some of them trustingly made
their way; a few were hesitant,
because they were confused
about the drop they perceived
though their hands told them
there should be nothing to doubt.
What is space anyway but a checker-
board of moments that light
can melt or fracture? A staircase
swings around to the other side
of the hall and back down to its
starting point. A hand is a hand
but a pair can turn into wings.