Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hours of Opening

 My students are much more open to experimenting with the space of the line than I am. And it’s because they’re better poets. I tell them to write work I would only dream of writing. I lied this week and told them I had written a poem about a special object from my childhood in order to gird them into writing with their objects in mind. The Owl and The Pussycat, the famous Edward Lear nonsense poem, recapitulated as an illustrated book by Hilary Knight, is back in my possession. Every page arranges the scope of an idea’s transition into image and back again. I don’t think I’ve ever been alive. Daily I pass a Polish beer garden and the sign reads, “Hours of Opening” as if the structure were a great plant astonished by its breathing. I walk by the same man in his cubicle forever leaning over to consider his calendar. There is no context for anything we do. As my mother tells it, I used to read The Owl and the Pussycat to my younger brother upside down so that he could read the images. Why does it feel like my life started when I arrived at the foot of a bed. I would read the words upside down but I was reciting. Around this time I killed my older brother’s fish by filling their tank with too much food. The flakes formed a film over their lives and shadowed them to death. As I understand it, recitation is a kind of overfeeding. It is important to connect the girl’s scarf with the growth of the girl’s tail, the shapely feline overtaking the girlflesh, how the shape overthrew its captor is how I first learned to starve. When he lay me down and when he lay me down and when he lay down my neck was the noose around my neck. It was easy to imagine being taken in a boat to elsewhere, freedom became a talisman I stroked to keep me animal. Chronology is a denture and the landscape removes me from its mouth, I the viscous silver string drooping to silk in the parabola. No one has ever sworn they’d change for me. They see I have already brimmed with the blades of my childhood and I’m done for. They see that I have learned to sleep with gold insects swarming my legs. And when I close my eyes, I cannot, for the life of me, ignite. 

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