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Monday, November 20, 2017

El Dorado

This is how I save my own life. Like
Avalokitesvara, I listen for the cries
of the world. But in my smallness, I
can only listen for small things, for
what’s feral.

The faint chirr of crickets; a sunfish’s
slap and plop (fish as clumsy skimmed
stone, dodging an egret.) Bullfrogs. A
red-tailed hawk’s descending scream.
And a great blue heron rising, its wings
unfurling, luffing.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Excavation

Image from Tashi Tobgyal's "The Inside Story:
Rathole Coal Mining in the Jaintia Hills," 2012

The creosote smell of old railroad ties at the shaft’s entrance,
the long slow seepage from the adit. There’s not much light—
a rusty slice of moon drowning in an acid pond. My headlamp.
I look and find a heap of fool’s gold has weathered, turned the
water into something that’ll burn the skin off my bones. Here
is nowhere, and here’s where I find myself—in a place where
the scroll’s worn off the auger, dull as a stained pile of tailings.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Flight

NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran,
"Junocam PeriJove 9," © CC NC SA

At a touch, I fly out past the borderland of
my skin, through arcs of tropospheric blue.
It takes a moment to orient. I tumble on a
ghost rappel, pinwheel as home—an agate
marble—shrinks behind me. Just like that, I
pass Juno and Jupiter, whose storms roil so
beautifully, all pearls into liquid nacre—then
further, faster, so fast emptiness becomes a
sound, light pouring through me. Time pools
at the edge of things where things leave off
their skins. Makes of us a holy, formless joy.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Philistine

Caravaggio, detail from "David con la testa di Golia,"
1606-07

Bellowing, enraged by the scrawny
boy standing out of range, unable to
see him (did the sun come out from
behind a cloud?) or to see what was
next: his death. Caravaggio mirrored
himself, slack-mouthed and bleeding,
in the giant; and I, caught in the net
of a dream with Caravaggio’s Goliath
raging, I was frozen, no sling at hand,
waiting for my terror to pass, waiting
for rescue. I woke, gasping. If I could
slip back into those starlit waters and
redream the terrible dream, I’d raise
my right hand slowly, blur the story’s
edges with abhayamudrā, then wait
until the giant—heaving, anguished,
broken—became a fountain of tears.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Grip

SeppVei, "A forest ditch in Utajärvi, Finland," 2009

The open hand, grasping at
nothing but air—a memory
pulled up by the roots, dirt
still clinging to it. I don’t say
too (“cat got your tongue?”)
much, no one wants to know
what’s on my mind, lyrics to
a misremembered song. I’ll
break it down for you. Went
too fast, lost my grip, pitched
forward, I’m falling. There’s a
long old ditch hidden in those
weeds. Where I fell, it looked
like a grave; berm to barrow,
too surprised to cry yet, but
I’m slick with blood and dew.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Connecticut

NASA, "The Rare Venus Transit," 2008

This week, a memory: of my dad’s gaze
sliding over our faces, unable to focus.

A doctor asked him, “And where are you
today, Bob?” A small chortle, because it

was an easy question: “I’m in a hospital.”
“But where—what city?” His gaze slowly

drifting to the left, then right. “Hospital.”
It was as if he were receding, swept out

to sea by a spring tide, a tangled current.
“Yes, but the city?” “I’m in…” (a minute

passes) “…Connecticut.” He was, but we
weren’t. We were in Scottsdale with him,

the radiant April sun laughing at our frail
bodies, our mayfly lives. He had been in

Connecticut when he was a boy, visiting
family there, and he could tell he’d given

the wrong answer by our stricken looks.
That’s when he knew how lost he was—

there were no maps for this journey, the
way forward over the edge of the world.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fugitive II

Detail from Titian's "Bacchus and Ariadne,"
1520-23, National Gallery

Restoring myself to myself with a very
unsteady hand—working in the dark,
by touch. The conservators I’d read
(all chemical savants) understood the
few hours it took for time and light to
dull Veronese’s sky, steal the red from
Titian’s caped Bacchus, rob Vermeer’s
buttery glaze and leave his laurels blue.
But this is the work. If we don’t know
how to unbind an organic dye from its
metallic salt and remake it whole, we
will look under the edges of the frame
for who we were last, when last happy.