CONJUNCTIONS:64, Natural Causes (Spring 2015)

The Face Says Do Not Kill Me
Miranda Mellis


“Air has no Residence, no Neighbor
No Ear, no Door
No Apprehension of Another
Oh, Happy Air!

Ethereal Guest at e’en an Outcast’s Pillow—
Essential Host, in Life’s faint, wailing Inn
Later than Light thy Consciousness accost me
Till it depart, conveying Mine”

—Emily Dickinson

“A broken opening in the wall of a bombed building, by a process of natural magic, becomes the head of havoc; the horrible head of devastation itself, brooding over the ruin that faces a society which cannot control its own destructive impulses. Also, the space becomes reversed—the opening in the wall becoming more solid than the wall itself.”

—Clarence John Laughlin, photographer, on his photograph The Head in the Wall, 1959





CHAPTER 1

They slowly rolled along beside it, daughter pushing mother in her chair
a carving up into the air and down into the rocky soil, staring in one and then the other direction.

The wall was no metaphor. There was no transferring to another side, another meaning
No way to pass through
What the air had become: a barrier

And what about that other wall, silent owner of supplications

Her mother called out,
“Where is the end of it?”







CHAPTER 2

The daughters were making their bodies into islands, imagining the world a sea
Going under ground and becoming worms, crawling under it

A subtle routine, this imagining of nonhuman elisions, receptive shapes and continuous terrains
Like water, earth, and air, flora and fauna, nonhuman axes, bats, gazelles, or coral

As insects they could crawl under, get outside, inside, or as vines
In a vegetative ecstasy of persistence
Leaning, falling, pushing, living back
against the wall.







CHAPTER 3

They could crawl
dry up on it in the desert sun

It is no figure, no monument, it is there to be breached with prepositions, to climb
over, under

To live
despite

They sit down under the shade of it
light a smoke, a light, a smoke

under the gun
under the sun.







CHAPTER 4

The children concoct dissolution recipes
Build up and then kick down
a pretend wall.

Or lie on their backs with their heads facing opposite directions, kicking each other
breathless

Until whatever was between them fell away

On a walk, they find
signs of abandonment
some animals pace, others, resigned, slump
no water

Only war,
nor migration corridor.

An intriguing whorl protrudes
Digging they
uproot a broken chair leg mostly buried in sand
Looking up they
Throw it as high in the air as they can.







CHAPTER 5

They find
a picture album with broken hinges
filled with photographs of windows
through which various people see
events occurring on the other side
in the distance
they have
intimate and faraway
looks
and
some books

The Kingdom of This World, by Alejo Carpentier
Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih

These they gave their mother
Who slides into the books like an eel

As if a book is …
… a way out
something real …







CHAPTER 6

Wedge of disruption
jutting up from the dust
an aerial track
to the sun.

In a seated position under the wall
a dry abrasion in her throat
she sees a way to
carve it.







CHAPTER 7

She makes
one cut after another

excitedly she strikes
to make the pieces fall out,
carving a head,

a face.



Miranda Mellis is the author of the forthcoming Demystifications (Solid Objects). Other books include The Spokes (Solid Objects), as well as None of This Is Real (Sidebrow), The Revisionist (Calamari), and two chapbooks, The Quarry (Trafficker) and Materialisms (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs).