read by Rosmarie Waldrop. audio from pennsound. recorded at Bowery Poetry Club, New York, NY. December 16, 2006
I had inferred from pictures that the world was real and therefore paused, for who knows what will happen if we talk truth while climbing the stairs. In fact, I was afraid of following the picture to where it reaches right out into reality, laid against it like a ruler. I thought I would die if my name didn’t touch me, or only with is very end, leaving the inside open to so many feelers like chance rain pouring down from the clouds. You laughed and told everybody that I had mistaken the Tower of Babel for Noah in his Drunkenness.
The proportion of accident in my picture of the world falls with the rain. Sometimes, at night, diluted air. You told me that the poorer houses down by the river still mark the level of the flood, but the world divides into facts like surprised wanderers disheveled by a sudden wind. When you stopped preparing quotes from the ancient misogynists it was clear that you would forget my street.
Was it the jokes you told? Our bodies fitted one another like the links of a chain resplendent with cymbals and xylophones. Because form is the possibility of structure, you hoped there were people watching. My desire was more like a sailor’s rolling gait, as if shifting my weight from one side to the other were a matter heavy with consequence. The salt reached saturation. You said wet was wet, without following the river farther than this sentence or looking at negative facts, their non-existent mouths twisted for explanation.
I was not sure I understood. I was naked enough to disappear in the shops windows. Your weight on me sank through my bones, and I didn’t know where I had lost my body–as if it had no vowels, as if the construction were faulty, the mesh too coarse–when you felt a sneeze coming on and fumbled for your handkerchief. I traced the law of sufficient reason down your spine. Your skin was delicate, like a retracted confession.
Everything that can be thought at all, you said, can be thought over. When I asked if you were referring to nuclear arms, genetic engineering, or marriage, you hastily closed the window. I had seen you, in the park, push a banana peel off the sandal of Constance Witherby’s statue and recite with large gestures: a poem? a funeral oration? I was not musician enough to read this score, not with the wind blowing your hair against the approach of winter, though if the swallows had stopped circling high in the solid blue, my breath would already have failed me. Sharp smell of the sea, of fish rocking in the surf. And already clouds. You said it might be different if we were able to stand outside logic. I knew by this you meant: barefoot.