Three Poems
The Star Field

Placing our emotion on a field, as I said, became a nucleus of space
defined by a rain of light and indeterminate contours of a landscape
like the photograph of an explosion, and gave the travel of your gaze into it or on me
imaginative weight of the passage along a gulf of space
or a series of aluminum poles

She walks through the rooms of blue chain-linked fence, a spacious tennis court
of rooms on concrete, instead of the single movement of a room where sky and earth
would come together

Outside is the field she is thinking about, a category of gray dots
on a television screen, of star data, representing no one’s experience
but which thrills all who gaze on it, so that it must be experience, and
the land at large becomes the light on the land

A coyote or a flicker’s call
is transfixed at the moment before its dissemination across the field
a sediment of, instead
of the tracing of feeling, the ratio of people to the space

I pass through focal planes of blue tennis court as a scene of desire
The material of the sky adjacent to me eludes me,
a pure signifier, and shift of sense
the sky or space a gradation of material, the light a trace
of mobility like a trace of light on a sensitive screen, extended
into the plane of the trace
and marked by light poles or drawn close by a planet at the edge

Your name becomes a trace of light. Through the movement of the trace
its repetition and deferral, my life protects itself
from blurs, time lapses, flares
of the sexual act, its mobility of an afterimage

Then I can understand the eye’s passage into depth
as an inability to stand still for you to see


Duration of Water

So that I make you a microcosm or symbolic center of the public
like a theatre, with hundreds of painted scenes
combining and recombining to exaggerate situations of joy or pain on stage instead of
five short songs about you, accompanying dancers who seem to float on their backs
in still water, as the empyrean. They would be the water motor. Three stones
protrude from the water and three instruments combine and repeat a simple scale,
but some passions only resolve with fire and weather catastrophes. The orchestra
nevertheless clears like foliage
for Yang Kue Fe’s sigh, when she hears the emperor wants her
There is a red line on the boards I can follow in the thick smoke
or mist. The shoulders of the man change scale, as if I had
been manipulating the field inside a small box, to see how light
can transform me into foliage, as a sexual punishment. The music
can take on the cold or head of the air like blue chameleons on the limbs of the tree
as if you could look through leaves into the empyrean. I turn back
my sleeve with the multiplicity of detail of the battleground. The colors
combine into legible hues at a distance. There is a craft at work
to reconcile emotion in a purely speculative ambience
tracking the last aria, like a duration of water,
which is a piece of white silk



I used the table as a reference and just did things from there
in register, to play a form of feeling out to the end, which is
an air of truth living persons and objects you use take on
when you set them together in a certain order, conferring privilege
on the individual, who will tend to dissolve if his visual presence
is maintained, into a sensation of meaning, going off by itself
First the table is the table. In blue light
nor in electric light does it create pathos. Then the light separates
from the human content, a violet-colored net or immaterial haze, echoing
the violet iceplant on the windowsill, where he is the trace of a desire

Such emotional disturbances are interruptions in landscape
and in logic brought on by a longing for direct experience
as if her memory of experience were the trace of herself. Especially now
when things have been flying apart in all directions
she will consider the hotel lobby the inert state of a form
It is the location of her appointment. And gray enamel elevator doors
are the relational state, the place behind them being a ground of water
or the figure of water. Now she turns her camera on them to change her thinking about them
into a thought in Mexico

as the horizon when you are moving can oppose the horizon inside
the elevator via a blue cadillac into a long tracking shot. You linger
over your hand at the table. The light has become a gold wing on the table. She sees
it opening, with an environment inside that is plastic and infinite
but is a style that has got the future wrong

Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge is the author of Hello, the Roses (New Directions), I Love Artists, New and Selected Poems (University of California Press), and A Lit Cloud, in collaboration with Kiki Smith (Galerie Lelong). Her poetry collection A Treatise on Stars (New Directions) is a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award.