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The Separation Of Earthly Objects
            An object is not an object. It is a witness to a relationship.
                                                                               Cecilia Vicuña


An objective understanding….
of rain, the seventh

day without color, a parched space
inside the language pool

light from the stars, a vacancy
at mid-morning, going out and away

from the body

that returns oneself to the sound
of objects, parallel beginnings, tools

we say are here for the keeping….

Begin to offer remonstrance, signs
from Bahia, the signature effort

is to remain
without self among the living, to become

this object among the dying, a wordless
prophecy of oneself passing. A beginning

near the end of one’s
abilities. Begin with cloud color

at daylight, no sun but grey stream
rocking the heart

to its very beginnings. 


The birth of color begins in the entanglement
of water. Color is the birth of light.

Low clouds morning visitation, the words are
forming separable from their origins. Stars

crease the heavens. I have been moving
into their stream, heavenly bodies, the architecture

loose and ungainly. I’m not one but two, the occupancy
of a system, here in the apparel of another’s

light, to come down these stairs, dawn
weighted with silver, a perimeter that hooks

sky, bleeds our nights into day. There is this
sanctuary, intricate respite, cut-out, here on the floor

with scissors and paper, the hands are local
to their means, locality is meaning a way of drawing

down the moon, of making its appearance
in a room upstairs, in the way of some going

backward and forward, light that is plurality’s
shade, a skinned object holds the jeweled stream

from outside in. To control it one sits here
with the blinds closed, at sundown the house drawn

quiet with blinds closed, in the sunless day the
blinds hold one at a distance from oneself.


This is this theory: that some things are not
yet here. The world we are seeing is not yet

here, but the emptiness divides itself, keeps its
daylight to another site. Locust-eyed. A perimeter

cuts both ways, I am starved for this beginning
point, as origin is a taking back, a starting over

inside the dream of another’s language. Blue
gentian dusk, fish-eye where color separates…

What comes into the discourse is what separates it
from first denial. Apparitions of water and quipu

as if to dream thread were to wear its mark, to waver
above water’s line, instrumentalizing the dying   

so that they wear their uniforms of abstract liquefaction, bind us to
solstice of the spirit, blanched by this parallel cross, abandoned

where the cross goes blue, the downward crushing of its
synthesis, a work of finite glory. Bowls of gentian and coronal

wafers of light dipped in syncretic ocean light, the realism that is
part and parcel of one’s deliverance, as separation moves

across a line seconded by azure, mint and rosemary from the
empty garden that combine as gifts of instruction. One is delivering

tactile messages from beyond an undrawn boundary, to keep the
ground clear of debris, to move among these objects

established in signs beyond oneself: here is a theory of aquatic
travel, blue from the edges, morning of quipu

black then yellow dipped in blood.


‘I was waking outside, the city I had known
when I was younger—

block by block the water had moved thru.’

As if limitation were intricate resolver, a network
of waterways that harbored self and its objects until

referentiality became the problem, the art of saying
out loud to oneself into the dark: ‘I haven’t a clue where you’ve gone...’ 

‘I saw you yesterday.’ Habit and script aligned, together
the bodily frame becoming a solid wall, blue and

yellow, a wall of blue and yellow one saw from
outside, jonquils and verbena, the shattered cells of ilex

forming a nominal pattern. There is the discourse of memory
and the ritual of object relations. Between them is

the fabrication of god. ‘I knelt down and began to
count the stones inside a circle of cut grass.’  

Lake and its waters…a shattered ilex….repetition
until one can soften the blow, say the days were already

in progress, no need to recircle them. A sparrow
landing inside the frame, one then another form of

calling, bird and its introit, the grass softer inside these
garden as I move into the emptiness of tarmac and buildings.

Pressed to acknowledge another’s presence, let’s say the words retreated
on canvas board, the board bent above a creek that had faltered.

Let’s say it’s labor all around, that the degree of witness is
several, each instant forming a band, a weathered clip

of color, like arterial lozenges taken into account. The day as
casualty of sight, provenance of sound and in-keeping.

A story, networked, sent into hiding…


The religiosity of alienation is its purpose. 
Set some things down. Let the role of their emergent

speech retrace then refract reference. Speech
bluer than yellow, green and aqua-marine together, common

daylight, one who appears at the entry way of these
things, aligned with objects left behind, a city in mind, the sidewalks

and avenues they start to become. Each locale emerges
to maintain itself, becoming a public object. One hinges

oneself among these public gardens, black walls inside of green
knots of azalea and goldenrod. The socio-political

germ of river talk. Renegotiating the commons to mend polity.
A scene of enlarged regret, as if inside the place of speaking

a river is moving, the light less and less audible, one
shares some things in common, belief that what sustains

beauty is the same as what objectifies the landscape, marking
each tree line and border in grey. What brings the body back

is syntax, a system of address, fatal in the half light, that one is
with and not with others, retreating and advancing at the same

instant, as if in preparation for the body’s departure, so each
is brought here, intricately purposed, to say some things in public

time, the half-hidden, half-announced stages of selecting
what gets said, how light can separate address from tree line.

The singularity of celestial ease is that it is enclosed in language.
Reference is lost mid-sentence, the way we round the circle

of each arrangement, parataxis folded from blue linen, light
that is the separation of body from ground, each view

moving us into the central space again, where we take note
of common objects, sunlight moving across the screen, obliterating

each sign, rows of letters hinged to the temporal yet breaking
back into color, soundless along the river’s edge, willow shoots and palm. 

There is no lesson other than the one that came to me just now, that 
‘carmine is a lake of cochineal, derived from the

blood of insects,’ as yesterday displacement spoke of the wide
margin of light filtered between window and tree line, the incremental

enactment of polis as silence, a street surrendering to rain, the lateral
motion of water across wood frame, to enunciate one’s absence

here, a formative emplacement of otherness
turned toward oneself. Each unit is specified by what

it can’t include, the common web of intersecting fields, as if
what brought the day into being were this back yard silence that opens

out, becomes plural, even as daylight pushes the body
out of its hiding space. Water, the irrigated surface, a single

line of thread, pulled into light, cochineal, blood lake,
carmine from the bodies of the dying.


Concrescent. Arithmetic for the objective scene.
Weighted by what’s common, here in the actuality

of line and argument. There’s material below the
surface, a weighted formation, as though one could enter

from the side entrance, sit down awhile, let the fabric
soak up fading color of morning. ‘I have circled myself without

finding rest,’ each of us in their own time, the pronominal
case that eludes detection, inside and outside combined

to resituate the earthly, reclaim where one sharpens, as evidence
of the found scene goes dark. ‘I am certainly more for greatness

in a Shade than in the open day,’ voiceless as if to prophecy
one’s disappearance. The redness of the light, the casualness

of a field at sundown, one can share its qualities
even as it moves out of view. Less quiet than held

open as visitant, as moral object. The skin loose
at the wrist, the eyes moving toward a tree line that is

articulated by what it doesn’t reveal. Each movement
is without form until it becomes an object, moved through

the empathy of thought, weighted by what was said in private, ‘river
of me that flows away.’ It is the voice dreaming out of itself, sensualist

staring out a window poured from the water’s circle, absorbed
as much as lost, so that I find myself moving through each bent

articulation of color, aware that we are encircled
by water, as each margin flooded again, rope that is

both distinct and objectively distant, formed piecemeal in memory
as one can say the hawk moved twice across the same

area of sky. The wind came from the northwest. Edged
by morning light, the bird rose and fell as one bird.  

These are parts of what I saw. Coeval with what is
shaded, crayoned out: the bird body as scriptural, silenced

by what it can’t remove or destroy.


To grow old with them—aromatic thyme, marjoram and violet beds—
to see the years shaped by what they provided.  Not here but where

I was going to be. A situation not a place. The objects of
a lifetime inserted, re-invented, re-traced beginnings

from inside the colored light, beaded, intricate, like a
Granada sunset, the pluralism of oneself that any day

is vehicle and sounding board, not tree or rock
but a wave, movement of systole and diastole, rising

and falling. Balletic, my body moving into its position of
speaking from inside a pattern. The red lines into which

I cast my common voice. Inherited to say what
is coming, what happened, what the next object

will become before it disappears. As fable, formed on my lips
apart from any audience. So, the risk is of silence

out of sound, an alphabet from inside the web of relation
that is neither self-same nor outer. On a backdrop

of enormous emptiness to scratch out these few
designs, let the fabulist ring move into its radical

outer circle, wave and cycle, cycle and wave, the
designation of saying that marks temporality, achieves

haven out of earth knots, wood from the wood
pile, brought inside, laid on wool carpets, the reticence

and industry of song, built inside one’s habitat.


A plane of experience awakened by what can’t be recalled.
‘I was going nowhere, I sat down on the edge of a

riverbank, I was going nowhere, I sat down….’
So that the rites of separation are indigenous, field

and sign of field made one. A compact, companion
leaves, these indices of having been. 

No place is without precarity. At the hinge point
between disappearance and fate, the objective is to

redress absence. The history of a self that is the humming
of one then two birds, the common actuarial beginning

of movement, one then two, the relation of separation
to ecstasis. Not morning or evening but their calligraphic repetition.

Mottled board, glue, loose cotton bunting.  Signs
apart from their objects. The readability of facial gestures.

Cool throat, wetted tongue.  Bird talk at the margins.
I’m laying these objects in line, the implicative gesture

that is several times over the same one. ‘You write
for no one’ or the daylight is estranged from what it reveals.

Several times over the same gesture.

‘Each sentence is the beginning of the same gesture.’
Word rites, combining what comes from outside into a

field I went to nearby, low-lying clouds that emptied
out over each deserted building. Not the sun but the wind

giving sign of its presence. A saturation point, daylight when I
return to the work room, balletic field song, I sat down

inside a yellow curtain of light, crepe myrtle outside, reddening
until I couldn’t see it anymore, curtain of half-light, realism’s

blue shade, mortal, impervious to any living object.


In paratactic resolve, the emptying and the
emptying again of the singular. Gestures from a

field that falls away, the separation of bodies
moving singular, separately, aligned across a line

of vision. The emblemizing of their enabled situated
selves, one walking separate from the other, relational

histories of subjective life, their retracing as signatory, aslant, grief-
stricken or mourning-less.  As common beings, their

persons entwined, they can say ‘this happened’ or
‘this won’t happen again.’ A casuistry of tactical knowledge

like rinsed boards left outside in a windstorm, the yellow marks
of water along the grain, one hand then another carries

the boards out to another part of the field. This is solitary
work, the otherness of a partition that enacts

in seriatim these planes of experience.  ‘Here in the oblong
lot I was watering a line of flowers.’ Adhering to the objective

cadence, its inhered dissipation, dissolving like bark bits
in a bucket of water, the order of stairs and stars, a repetition

that initializes activity, as my eyes turn from one window
to the line between my two hands. Sentence by sentence

listening for their voices inside my own leaving and coming
to one’s senses in a paradigm of outlooking, these noticings

moved from one locality to the next, companionable and
inseparable, as the subject is an object divided by what it is divested of.

The carved brass left at the bottom of the river, Oshun’s
tale I’m reading against the light, the objects she took

to the bottom of the river, sign’s appearance in river
air, blue where the sediment is rising up to our waists, cool

Iworo bird with brilliant plume on her head, the appearance
of objects that are twinned, Iworo bird and plume, the gathering

together of an image, as water is cooler at the bottom, when the river
lowers itself and the body is lowered into it, water when the waist

is burdened by its motility, soundless, as one is carrying
brass into the circle, wave and cycle of water, the yellow

grass when Oshun is moving, out of sight, inside the
circle, a span of one’s good eye, two good eyes, the bird and its cloth

marker, threaded blue quipu from earth’s shoulder, as shade
and bird are two things, the water from her mouth

both salve and sealant, both cure and cause, marine line
of red wings, bird that is rising, involuntarily, one morning after another

from the ringed aftermath of light, a jeweled body that moves toward you.

                                                                                                13 September 2022 – 3 January 2023


Notes: Language, marked and unmarked, has been incorporated into this poem from a number of sources, including work by Wallace Stevens, John Keats, H.D., Robert Duncan, Cecilia Vicuña, Henry David Thoreau, Michel de Certeau, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Nathaniel Mackey, and Jeanne Heuving. The language in section 9 related to Yoruba religious practices is borrowed from Robert Farris Thompson’s Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy, specifically his discussion of the Yoruba deity, Oshun. 

Andrew Mossin has published seven collections of poetry, the most recent of which is North & East: Daybooks (Spuyten Duyvil). His new collection, Black Trees, is forthcoming in 2023, and he has recently completed another, A Common World. “The Day After the Day After,” from Conjunctions:70, Sanctuary: The Preservation Issue, is excerpted from a book-length memoir, A Son from the Mountains (Spuyten Duyvil). He is currently editing a book-length collection of essays, Thinking with the Poem: Essays on the Poetry and Poetics of Rachel Blau DuPlessis. He is an Associate Professor at Temple University, where he teaches in the Intellectual Heritage Program.