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“They threaten to throw into the air their own aura that becomes a ghost.” 
—Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life


If you spend a quiet fortress in tears it may be necessary to spurn stillness. Mount ebony strings and run until breath demands cessation of crying. If you are unable to represent yourself, even in imaginary terms, you may watch a palette of sylvan days removed from your body. Like a creature enchanted by a remote cottage, your hopes revolve around the unmet inhabitants within. A small and almost imperceptible chink through which the eye could just penetrate. Remind yourself to be anyone you choose.



Practice holding your hand, apologizing to a whisper, a crease in paper, a partial figure in a drawing. What drifted from us, bodies once beloved, adorned, now soft coal—remote eyes—we could not accept. If it is cold inside your house it is not cold inside your body. We spoke as if wading through a barren field, a fireplace dark with ash, folding a blanket near the surface of the sea. Unlacing your garments as if this would permit access to that which animates winged instruments within.



How close we are to any living being. I don’t know what I am practicing. I’ve lost the loom, utterance, original stamp. Practice your hands placed on keyed ivory, mounted boxwood, earth—in order to bring yourself. If wind instruments then why not water? Walk between windowpanes. Practice remembering where you used to live as a maple neck—an offshoot of now.



I sat in silence and removed all of myself. When he called my name I was a long way under. Where? Practicing paperwhite hours. Eighty-five beats per second. Transparent sheathe-wings hidden by outer shell. To all appearances, to him calling my name and entering the room, nothing had changed. There is a place one can exist where the boisterousness of mind is not a lesion. Engraved brass body. French, anonymous rosewood. Someone has saved these instruments we call watermarks. Though wading through leaves somewhat erased, we are able to see beyond multiple smudge marks, hear the silence of colors as the sky changes inside our closed eyes.



Practical concerns may lure you away from assembling yourself on a daily basis. Running through trees. Hearing one’s breath in any endeavor alongside a train and the child who speaks grenadine sentences, sniffles, trips upon himself stumbling down stairs. And now three persons ask you at once. Your forehead has fallen to the floor. We must leave in two minutes or be late. Voices grow into beaded hot liquid. Serpents are lost. Practice now, you are also that animal breathing quietly on a wooden bench. Head slightly bowed. Practice seeing yourself fully assembled, completely here, not cloistered in a future or withheld in the past. Pull your legs close and say nothing. You think that you have never seen a person within the perfect trust of closing eyes in unison, an inhabitant of the breath.



Is the mind a place? A collage series of patchwork dresses? Are there predispositions? Practice attentiveness, unbroken by patterning of startlingly white plumage outside the window. What is it to draw in, to pull one’s fingers to the center of a glove, to recoil and choose one’s influences as carefully as one arranges a leaf in coat pocket? I could hear her voice but she was yellow, fallen. Could it be I have put myself aside as so many garments? Not to wear the weight of oneself? What did she wish to tell me in a lavender bedroom, up tiny jeweled stairs, light casting crystals upon walls? This portrait abbreviates everything.



Practice entering the world we all inhabit but do not discuss. A falling leaf slows and rises up. The woman hidden inside the trunk of a dark tree raises her arms and lowers her branches, shaking apprehensive winter from her veins. A fox looks into my eyes, falters in ivy, molts to any animal with mottled limbs. When I tried on my wedding ring, seeing my hand for a moment as very old, knowing.



Your absence grows bright and weary. We went downtown to a place no longer existent. Skylines intact. Stop sending messages to gutters. We are settling into remember what we never knew. How to behave when everything disappears? I desire an equally desperate text to dictate my whereabouts. Running through trees. Milestones of cloakflower.



The portrait I wish to emulate can be found in the landing, in a glass box. The moment we fear and the moment we seek, a dress tied to a tree. A key dangles from a thread and falls across her profile. Why would you agree to bed any noun amid abandon? These words will ultimately flee. A body slips, tied. My arms are leaves falling to the middle of a river, borrowed from a body which has no care.



Practice images of oneself frozen in various attitudes or tasks. We take them out to remember. We pull them up from a river and are able to recall. Practice what the mind is made of, junction box for voices imprinting, chimera of electrical impulses. Practice being a brown bag on top of a shelf. A gun in a house. Practice who you were, tired, sounded out, handed over, head inside fettering spool. Practice disposing of your practice: time wasted and ruined, wasted and ruined.



Why practice carrying carcasses of the unsaid 
The weighty other world you did not visit 

Practice prescriptive patience on a ledge 
Sitting inside the weight of light 

Practice whose hand tried to be someone 
Tell me apocryphal, can air be fractional? 

Practice no longer residing among the made 
Not lying down one’s head amid imaginary companions 

Except when you must


Practice a refusal you could only hollow with tears. Admiration beyond the polite hemisphere. You walk electrically beside me in a library. Unspoken messages cannot be silenced. Practice not feeding the perishable or the unreal. Repairing counsel, console, policy, particle, partner. Practice what will never be realized for so many bodily reasons—coinciding with eyes. Waking to your words, predawn, before the frozen can recall any imperfection in your imagined form. 

Laynie Browne’s most recent books include a collection of poems, In Garments Worn By Lindens (Tender Buttons); a work of short fiction, The Book of Moments (Presses Universitaires de Rouen et Du Havre); and a novel, Periodic Companions.