Self-Portrait as the Speech of the Mime
It might begin with lips enclosing speech.
Not movement, but the possibility of movement withheld.
He evokes the direction of circus animals and it doesn’t take.
Nor is there gesture for the kissed-off color of the sky,
A way to say
The knife glints in the crosshairs of stars
Like a plot point.
The tongue fallow as a field is fallow
And in it I as though a hunter
In the unfurl of the hunted,
The rhetoric of a horse already drowned.
To think is to think of oneself
But not of I
For whom would I speak?
Cloture on the Reinstatement of Day
The soup is dark. I think of fish hearts
floating in the river. The canal we called the river.
It was not faith, exactly, that interested you.
The din of objects. Silvery, there. Floating.
Some negative starlight.
An error in category, perhaps.
The body that would say as much. The outline
of Indiana cloud-cover.
For weeks I’d dreamt the dreams
of the deposed monarch.
The dinner conversation had moved past
the context of what you’d waited so long to say.
Nothing follows from this. Outside shadows
across the gouache-lit valley, implacable whispers.
It would seem to have broken
The curtain rended,
the shorn linen
what was then thought to be the whole of history,
but at remove, that is
the book reads.
Its foreignness might strike us
though we imagine endlessly
ourselves as though discrete,
those inner rooms and wandering salt-crusted
shorelines soon be peopled, the expectant
congregation encircling the place where a speaker might stand.
And thus the position takes hold.
But witnesses we are not;
nor even to the more basic acts,
some unprecedented gesture toward the broad sky
or the mere need to point, to say
this is the actual world;
this will be called the actual world.
But it is for us the ease of inheritance,
the modeling of the built city
and we have only to find ourselves in it.
A beginning is sought but it is the beginning of a circle.
Not capture but caesura.
The afternoon sky puddles into bulbous clouds
which too dissipate
to be encountered finally only as remnants of one sort or another,
suggesting what they cannot offer—
The wandering tracts of land
bisected by the routes
of burgeoning commerce.
Nothing escapes the exchange of value: the landscape
seen as the marbling of the difference
from which we might speak our names.
The event, we say, occurs.
We have chosen this,
the enfolding of history:
a barren seabed
and the bodies of fish
prove enough to begin its telling.
The child refuses to speak without holding the fish in his hands.
Even then he refuses to say fish.
There is not an ache more basic,
like asking for the curtain to be lifted
and feeling only a weight in the mouth
and in the distance the fields are burning.