on poems by Beth Anderson In Residence is a cycle of twelve poems. The project was initiated
on a manual typewriter one autumn when the prospect of moving loomed large
and nearly definite, when my professional obligations loomed equally large
and very definite, and when I had finished rereading Williamss Kora
in Hell. I took as my model Williamss writing process as he describes
it in his introduction to Kora; he wrote every night for a year
no matter the circumstances and revised the results into the poem. My
typewriter gave the act of writing a physicality that meshed with the
concerns of the writing; throughout the cycle place and replacement recur,
generated by motifs of structure and structuring, buildings and building.
In Residence was completed some months prior to my move and before
I knew where that move would land me, so the poems are acts of anticipation.
Their descriptions of place imagine the hunt for it, the method of finding
placement, the process of giving up a city where Id lived for a decade
even as I continued to live in it.
When you refuse me
stories because of slight variance
I cannot clear
a space for lightning. It remains veiled by environment,
sail through gorges along the river that will be
in twelve years, beside the coal-dusted buildings
that will adorn
the innards of a gargantuan lake. What we haul
shoulders and breathe out is drifting with the rivers surface,
missing barges and coating the water with near-words.
It is a form
of fjord, a means of holding the tongue against the teeth
for speech. I have never seen anything
like this balance
of shore and current and so will myself to have
using this profile as if it were the beginning of a familiar movie
cues, nearly serial, nearly three thousand miles long.
The accusatory posture
was accentuated with brows, arching
to voice a desire for the skeletal. Ready to admonish, fingers cocked,
we wrote barter
systems in the minutes but did not follow up.
In each lyric
was lyricism rendered by a sullen face,
without armor, unable to tell the tale
crying wolf. Tomorrow we may strive for
balance of pause and gesture, settle for learning how
to read the
months as signals. Perhaps with a wave toward function
or with spread
fingers hovering over the floorboards, or by assigning the unruly
names. And then to learn that your house is not
but a group of stances taken together to indicate tenancy.
Yonder the meadows
indicate signatures pressed into beach sand
between a twisted oak and soil spilled with the tides.
wind. We expected this momentum to be seamless
and all our
preparations were as if we could rely on two remaining episodes
of their scripts. Changing the paper for the next day
will continue gently
the page and land requires a responsive interlace.
means of coming true will either conjugate or fall.
We set that
territory apart as if we meant it, leapt from bell towers when necessary
happiness between times. I knew many of the streets and landmarks,
to climb and admire and enter into history
and its keeping,
all for the sake, needing memory,
when to move on in the most comforted way possible.
The spaces skipped,
the back would break, these can be fought
like the laboratorys
resemblance to heaven. The town cudgels
its place with
the locals like salt. Quality and its issues
begin to curl
when neglected, tendril-headed, a clear and graphic rule
that will provide
per samplers and other offerings.
crops in order to identify botanical names
we came to
the dank pool where we hoped to see portraits but settled
Rehearsals transmuted into performance, bodies arched
to fit over
bicycle racks and shoes came untied. These
were the only
things about us that adjusted to the new century.
As if giving
could lend credence we gave and gave
while the waters
metallic taste affected vision and indicated a figure
imprecisely where the pond had been drained.
When I came to understand
myself as able, I sent word to the island and nearly
made it around before ownership changed and
me into misinterpretation. Always abrupt, such transference,
but we will
meet again where names are shortened and the familiar
is like a housepet
swimming in its cage. Where the air thins
the earth takes
another name, announces its frugality
despite a supply
of views that will never dwindle. We leadenly swam
to an escalation
and traced our shape in its paper wingspan.
pebbles made up a stark beach below us, one by one
surf nigh upon a fortnight and an imminent bestseller.
This is the best
reversal I have witnessed in recent memory
like skin split
across the knuckles due to neglect rather than malice
or spring cleaning
in another season. When an act is traditional
then who can
argue with it? A little luck must fall whether or not
the mood, not mired in the day-to-day or in response
to a legal
claim but fraught with reflections. We lean on the power
of pretense, of weaving among the streetlights
ready to listen
or sing. The loneliest night is still in dispute.
We reviewed but could
not categorize the explorers, diplomats,
revolutions, and spouses. In some cases
a slot. In others we simply signed off
and left the
floaters in fluid. A sphere of land recalls the slope
of a chapel
into a confessional booth and how sound catches my ear
as I release
my hands. From his cupola one inventor generates
a pattern for
traverse based on stellar observation, enhanced
in underused limbs. Another reason to take the stairs
is based on
the sway of this building as we pass by
and how it
interacts with discomfort before circumference
makes the circular
out of a referent and into itself.
This new country
beholds you from a tumult of routine
that will not adjust to communal living. Other people
are always looking for titles, but I wonder what to say
to avoid praise or reassurance and yet to speak. Never previously
have described my language. The plush landscape
predatory, its redolent lust for camaraderie
the barren state covert within all green
into channels disguised by hardy soils and stones.
Desensitized to travel,
to trowels, to the assembly of uses
to be kept
in a low cupboard as long as you keep limber,
to esteem even as we age. I consider you indispensable
like the faint
light of evening. Sudden affinities will guard us from
the ceremonies we encounter will not stop the months
and the names from adapting to time. Sit together
and add on
family with a generous hand, work the phrases hard
onto the bandwagon, full in song. Delight is supported and
searching for the lips of candidates. From the oracle
you moved to
a stadium arrangement and I wept upon the setting
I ever pursue
as if I really could live in it, wanting the lushness
under snow, the farmland without the reek of cow.
But I will not be
a landlover who moves into the picturesque
as if it were
simply a state without victims. That link wobbles
its connection, the teeth of the snake cling
to its tail.
When leaning into the street to avoid a train
we spot the
news arriving at our door so know not to go home.
was to an audience clearly biased in favor
of having a
bad time then dissembling. If I never before mentioned
my lurid past,
it was to save you from yourself. When you flipped over
to follow. Sensing an alert reception, my reluctance searches
for an illogical
replacement before crossing the above-ground tracks.
We have realized
too soon a breaking of knowledge.
Anderson is the author of The Impending Collision (rem press, 1997),
The Domain of Inquiry (Instress, 1999), and In Residence (Pressed
Wafer, forthcoming). Her poems have appeared in The Germ,
Hanging Loose,Arshile, and other journals and in An Anthology
of New (American) Poets (Talisman House, 1998). Other works on-line
include poetry at The East Village Poetry website (www.theeastvillage.org/)
and at Duration (members.xoom.com/Duration/index.html). She works in Boston
as a lexicographer and is the editor and publisher of reference: press chapbooks.