CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
Barcelona
Stacey Duff



Not that I’ve been there.
But the word landed. I think

and now and again I reverse
the casual response to Spain.

I won’t mention it,
not in Boston, though

King Carlos visited the Kennedy
Library today.

What does the poem erupt?
                                          Nothing.

Only the idea of place—
             and it doesn’t erupt enough
Or it would reflect
             the shadows of your feet
moving in tandem
             down the alley
and (of course)
             a line of doors
one after two after
             in pursuit of the spring air.

And also, you would presume,
             the spring cars,
                                          the defeated face
the water makes
             when you drive past it.
But the face
             is less endurable
than the salty texture
                                          of the air—
not on the tongue
                           but
in a vibration almost
                           its avian tendency
to penetrate the brow
                           and enjoy the carousel
of blood
             we so stupidly conceive
as our blood
             and not the blood
of the car.

By now I’m sure you’ve
noticed: the resonance of—
             the nameless voyage of,
                           has it come to you!—
sitting in the mouth, only sitting,
             that resonance without a name.

Here I should continue to explain
                           the cavalcade
                                          but an exegesis
if you do
             want to experience movement
is entirely
             out of balance.
                                          What I mean to say
without saying it
                           is the commonality
of discourse; that phrase
                                          commonality of discourse
falls slightly short of abruption
             but is
                           as I see it flicker
across your face
             slightly more than a sudden stop.

And perhaps I should have said
                                                banality of discourse
instead.

It isn’t the movement of the car
             I’m trying to describe.

It’s something I’ve forgotten to say
and to remember that I forgot it
I almost named it Barcelona.

As you see though, I can’t name it Barcelona.
             I might as well call it: the oval light.
that arches across the psychotic water.

—Not that water can be psychotic!
                                                      Water is nothing.
I will call it
                  the oval light
                  that arches over the water.

Note what I deleted.
I did the same with my palm.
I did the same with a particular
pasture in Northern Arkansas.
And I know you’re asking
Which palm? What pasture?

                        The clear palm whereon
                        the new cologne perches.

                        The pasture still witness
                        to our catafalque.

                                                      Is it possible
that this path
                           was subservient
to a final purpose?
                           To a memory?

I thought so
             since the cliffs on that countryside
left me
             with such a distinct recollection:
                                                                the rocks
their impervious vertical nature
the Eastern firmament the storm
was moving into
                           and the Western
where it left—
                           suddenly—the orange sun.

This sculptured hodgepodge
             made me think
at first
             that yes
             the purpose of the arterial
gesture of the poem
             was to bring us to that
finality, recollecting
             the sound of our embrace.

But to think that I almost saw
a purpose—
                           to realize that
                           we almost created one together
drives me farther away
                           from that time.

I am still at a desk
and the task becomes mundane
in its pure taskness.

I’d prefer to say your name
but even that is farther from the truth
than to call you Barcelona.

You see, we cannot pin it down
and it’s safer to say

the experience never existed
that it never will—

not to damn it
with fire but to dismiss it safely

with water. Do you remember
what I said? I said

        the defeated face / the water makes / when you drive past it.

You and I know
the water’s face isn’t defeated
that I should have said—simply—

                           the face the water makes
                           the face the water makes