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Breathing Room
Breathing Room

Instruments of music and surgery,
Statues of birds and kings, 
Chapters illuminated by gaslight: 
                      Visual features differentiated in space, not time. 

I’m reading a book about monkeys and their languages. Did you know
With their innumerable dialects, most comprehend 
Each other no better than you and I? 

When a tongue functions as a contour seen as boundary. 
The difference between centrality and infinity. 

Because of internal contradictions of love 
I believe in a host of unlikely divinities. 

                      A scene shifts from dream-room to living
Room. Living room to cubist painting. 
                                                               In simple isometric
                      The balance of immutable force. 

A surface is a translation of a three-dimensional image. 
Some parts must be excluded. Distance 
                                                               Between a window and its view
                                                               On the vertical axis. 

This is where we enter the room—living, breathing. 
                                                                                   The room we inhabit 
Has the appearance of being trustworthy. We believe 
Its space will not dissolve
                                      Like the hotel lobby in which we’re waiting. 
                      Familiar landscape 
                      Mother’s womb—forgotten, then remembered viscerally 
                                     As though we had been there only last Sunday. Reading 
From the Book of Genesis. 
                                      Unlike the moon seen through reflection, 
   The moon in the womb is an umbilical connection 
           To a web, network of our past lives, 
                                      And deflected moonlight stretches across the lake.
           Putty nosed monkeys string together utterances. 

The principal locus of repulsion and attraction. One’s death 
                                                                                                 Firmly anchored 
                                                                            In the present. 
                                        To step on a isolate shadow, 
                                                    A shadow pierced by a knife, 
                                                                                             Or buried with a corpse. 

One does not sleep at night / delusory state / 
One does not enter a village that’s near a road. 

The devil is a kidnapper with a flair for the dramatic. 
The devil will snuff out she who reveals her heart-line. 

My revolver was removed from a drawer
By a corporal spirit with no interior perception. 
Airy construction or
Paper as material on which music moves. 

           Cellophane thunder, lightning bolt. 
           Cello broke dawn. 

April 1920, Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein met: 
           Compression of heat core increases luminosity
           When two shapes of varying densities collide. 

In medieval cosmology, idols are the rupture between mind and nature, 
Thinking and being, a mirror eclipsed by variation in space, 
How one experiences separation from the body 
When he is in the process of leaving it, 
No longer recognizing the out-of-date monkey suit. 

As though the body is a jug filled to the brim with water

When the sky cries
Raining cats and dogs

The whole comprised of oscillating parts
In varying states of coming and going. 

1931 Einstein asked Freud if peace is possible. 
Considering:  Attraction and repulsion
                      Love and its opposite
                      The 32 winds that motivate man
                      And an inwardly-turned death instinct. 

This Sunday, 27 lights were extinguished in Iraq
While I was reading a book on Diana monkeys. 

Freud concluded that the impulse toward cultural development 
Is compelled to elevate us into pacifists. 
As though time were linear and entropy didn’t accelerate
At the speed of evolution. 

Look up! No clouds— 
Bodies floating among us, toward us, 
                                                           Never the same moment twice 
                                              & each new lake 
                                                           Occupies non-Euclidean space. 

I will take my book and go for a boat ride 
In an ever-expanding, multidirectional body of water. 

Martine Bellen’s most recent collection of poetry is This Amazing Cage of Light: New and Selected Poems (Spuyten Duyvil). She is a librettist of Moon in the Mirror (colibrettist Zhang Er, composer Stephen Dembski), which will be performed during the Chinese New Year at Cleveland State University.