Cheryl PallantCheryl Pallant

Working Note

My process: Two events conspired toward the creation of Into Stillness, my visit to Budapest, the closest Iíd ever gotten to my paternal grandparentís home, and the death a few months later of my 98-year-old grandmother. With her passing went the stories she never told about the loss of her family and her husbandís family, my family, to Nazism. How did their tragedy influence my reluctance to embrace religion and state my spiritual beliefs? 

I didnít want an autobiographical work though, well aware that atrocities driven by racial and religious conflict occur daily across the globe. I read numerous accounts of survivors and the ongoing struggles with the trauma they carry daily, and my interest turned toward the sacredness of the body as a home. This belief and much of my current writing style derives from years of dancing Contact Improvisation, a modern improvisational dance, and meditation, both rooted in the ever-shifting moment and the felt and fleeting self. 

In my previous book, Uncommon Grammar Cloth, each word arises from my body like sweat, riding on breath, pulse, pause, and play, avoiding, to a degree, linear meaning. Here I wanted a similar effect, but with a significant difference: a focus on disembodied places, the violences that numb, the voices stifled, all balanced, even surpassed by an honoring of flesh and a return to stillness.

 


 

from

Into Stillness

Everything passes away, I forget, I lie down. In order to die, in
order of death, the passing of horizons into vertical truths.
Syllables list, key to pronouncements, to swinging in place or
standing still with every falsehood and cashmere dress. To uncloth and
redress every wound and glee and neuter the dead. I am dying, I
forget. Alone with me you. You settle me down and we recite our
recriminations, the day you closed the door locked, the afternoon I
spanked the monkey, the eve the moon knocked. We listen in our briefs
long. We abide the tic of your lip in perpetual twitch and my hip in
swing. This we do for one another for alone. Kicking the bucket and
pulling the teeth, better now than leaden, vase cracked beyond glue.

When you lie beside mine, I am forced to remember a more truculent
bed, bumps that force the blood of truth. When you lie aside, I tarry
longer in the doorway, setting my gaze on the garden, wanting to pick
apart patches, to weed out the ripe. Pitted as such, but do not pity
me. Bite the soft spot, but watch for pits.

Seed me with your dying that I may remember the host. Uninvited guest,
I stay, guess, speculate on material worries and accept your offer of
a drink with a toast jellied with sublime. Onward, ho!† Remember the
Alms! A snitch of time! We clink grasses, cut the yawns, inspire and
wipe the otherís brow.

Blame cuts across the garden, takes the path most traveled, most
averse. We sing loudly, stanzaically, prose intended for the
upper-crass. We do not mind. We do the body in order of dying, of
passing beyond lips and hip gyrations, below the wind of my stare and
your thumb pointing down. Communion in community, the veil lifted,
face reviled for bounty, the many veils parting aside the robe of
matter. Robbery if anything less. Bribery if anything more suitable.
Removal of offal and awesome, disrobery. I cannot lie, nor you. You
cannot pass away, ignore me. In our millennial bed below the slow
close the moon nodding off...

 

This body remembers.
This body bends over backwards crosses space to embody another
reaching in stretch in grasp letting go consider caress and push. In
the transgression one supposes to wink in the dilation of muscled
edges and flesh softening. This body hears voice and stomp as blocking
none too sonorous twisting from side to wide. Echo but no fall.
Opening that closes the door and lifts the window to still point as
attentive ear. How is one to double? How when doubt interferes like
static during symphony like dried out during rain like kiss that finds
no lips?

This body kneels to ground and dig in hole to burrow whatís on loan in
bend an afterthought into bellow. Bent knees bend needs to want less
or nothing left to be rented. Buy one and all impropriety if
opportunity arises like a stalk seeking sun, like a hand seeking hold.
How many times is how many times? When as how to which. In the
unseemly shadow and mostly forgiven link of blood and bone, tried and
removed.†

An answer pursues a question, but misses the exit, the train of
thoughtless.

A body rests against bark, leans forward to generate touch that
releases hold.

When she caught her breath, she let it go.

When her thoughts raced, she held up a clock for good measure.

With the beat of heart, she tapped its code and understood nothing as
the same as a misunderstanding or scant attempt at putting forth
whatís hidden beneath the face of appearances. Such a lowly ruse, she
surmised. How slowly it dawned on her that despite any cling to branch
or root that she had to dislodge and shred every evidence of prove it.
The line between possible and impish delight she knew to be a hairís
breath, insightful as a ratís flea. Nothing beckoned in the rehearsal
that no one showed forever in interminable delay. Wait not what is
wanton. A simple mistake no less than mere miscalculation. Such
equivalencies baffled unlike the thorn of scratch which left tracks of
pain. But she was beyond the righteous quibble and took to walk, to
sway hip and heal, to lesson the overmore between placing her beside
herself, exiled from home. She wished none such fate to none such a
one because she better in knowing nothingÖ

 

Closer to still.†

My body is sacred. Mine self be tree. Branches root toward sky
detritus. Mine body mine in the deep shaft and dark haunts with drip
drip cool, inner heat helloing goodbyes and welcome my body ah. Ah
body, ah.

Abdominal rest, belly rise. The rise and set pause between crust and
core, granite and silt, eons and ore. Ether or amen opens gate and
aha. One not a one alone. Two in see to the listener be tree. A gain
in prone and spin every lost a gain. The spin in still, the line piped
in past sealed. No dam it. No dam, yes sir-ree. Rishima. Zimzum.
Satori. Rishima. Zimzum. Satori. A mend to the ways. A mend to distill
the disquieted, trembles and quakes, explosive ferments flourishing
like weeds, rocks loosened.

Abdominal rest, belly fall. Tree of discord twined in brilliance, a
looming ray, gray with overt, avid, avoid. Mud beyond impression,
impress beyond mad. Benign quarrying, querulous, quay. Cuts into her
skin cuts into mine.

Shefa for shekina for tikkun. Not for the taking. Shefa ahem. Amen
ahem. Abdominal rest, body beside body, touch beyond tease, arrival as
soon as depart, depart saming return. Aha body, ah.

My spin stills me. Ah swears against reasons, rips away discord,
uproots the rots and desiccates the falsely inflated. Spin as lip
against cheek against breath against pronouncing the silent, crippled
and maintained, started and waned, the obvious poke and sting in
shadows that slip out from behind the curtain into neither limp nor
lame nor lung blackened by shoulds but the yes of aha.

My body whose. My body where. Your tongue licks me dry...

 

the dream of my invisibly in this my dream us. in this. hope not. my
invisibly dreamed ism. in this my dream us the terrain of steppe of
wilderness of stone and glow. of this earth of visibly no divisiveness
no dividing your couch from my lantern, your car from my fence, no
contracts drawn out to pale. this vividly individual daisy or
hermaphrodite. this vivid recall of uncalloused skin for sleek meeting
of lips beyond shade. this envisioning steps out its skin its hidden
purpose its hide you go see youíre it youíre not but anotherís more
deserving you slapped wrist.

in this my us of trembling lids this view visions this incidental
detail of blur of clarity. this visibly aligns the body. this visibly
declines the malign denial of flesh. a returning dream. a bloom
stemming from foot upon root in neither decline nor askance.

oh bare oh bare this ism. a turn of your head a return from my seem...

 

a happenstance by chance happens. a heroic feat diffuses the defense.
a chortle or gasp, criterion or mouse. fills up like a vase without
cup like a jaunt with no gait, no gracious knees. be devil in the
details. a happenstance a happiness a lap left on the doorstep in the
right of way wronged by the righteous.

i dropped myself off at the cleaners for a quick spin and iron. i
trashed the unrecyclable the unreclaimed of uncalm.† i tossed boredom
over the rail to the waves, lost myself in the drown of no face.
myself whose glee, herself sleeps past three, himself hissing hymn.
together a part of play with kids owning age and findings lose out a
gain. this an incrimination of gestalt, a witness from a by standing
on feats yet to achieve, a chant refusing mum. ah e i ger.
interpreted as mal nor mas que. or in tiegle or a suppository
inserting up the sublime derriere. up column up combine up and coming
consort.

this body felt the fleeing, the disregard the closed doors during the
parade past influency. told to look away with an eye closed and mouth
best kept busy without gum. where spins along spine, when longs for
the time. each and every each and effervesced version of virility and
stuffed bully at the taxidermy.

unarmed in stretch, head turning with temple of felt before known no
or why not. before the cord, the afford credibly challenged and
indelibly unmasked to reveal the face of the world.

marriage of heaven and help, ouch with oh say can you see past answers
and questions, grass and sand, grasp and sand, quench and thirst...

 

arguably the most advantageous schemes addressing numinous
entitlements, an upheaval of the wheelbarrow rolling uncontrollable
down a hill, is spade is a clover. brought before the commission the
author on politeness on doubling pamphlets lengthwise.

the juryís ousted sentence drew to question the feet fleeting toward
webbed toes for greater drift, sink or swim, sink or sweetly. arguably
the most schematic advantage with innumerable addresses, a two wheeler
borrowed to toll the limit, a spade is always.

committing to the author whose potential for leaving promptly before
the hourís up or a lengthier stay. concomitant with a sentence
entitling none to regard the uphill battle, the schism that divides in
attempt of conquer, a conjuring up positions that resist the larger
caustic claim.

an ostentatious display of the criminal mind at work on the play.
ground for selling keys, a thieving of beliefs released before their
temerity or dates shown due. how impolitic and despiteful. the spin in
lock, the spin under lock and house, benefits without pardon, impolite
and despicable, though rightly so in the rigidly defined manifesto of
mud and grime.

the jury comes to their hurry with bloodshot eyes and shuffling† woes.
speak not want not. not the unbreakable, still, toss, bleed, and
return to the safety of numerical quandaries easily quantified,
readily stuffed in the draw back.

in no sense

non sent

onion

spoke the speaker.

on the count of one, count to three.

in no

sent to belief

repeated the repeater.

we bereave this persons to be guileless and unworthy of tree planting
platitudes. we aggrieve this pension to be ample to explain
confounding clues like barbed wire, missiles, the clenched jaw, limbs
in amiss. this person should appeal like an onion and no tears shed
but the applause of a sharpened knife...

everything passes a way forget the swing and winged sway in ribbed
bribery. against the sin again the singularity of doubt dumping
severed limbs sacralizing the charnel ground. dust to dent, dirt to
fierce unimaginable majesty. didnít always dozens.

the glass cracked, the vase unglued. legs in press, legs impress.

they piss to plot and insist on despot

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††and trip on each otherís woes.

what he did what she could do. what done doze away, wind under ways,
wind under tread upon fern, trampled twig off lift. the vital vial the
quench of thirsts. body in like in lieu of doing done and being
birthed undo. so long so love, some song some imbue in arias and
throated clarity, the mote crossed for the reign unchained.

thirty found dead, thirty thousand more dumped overboard in legislated
acts. numbers conceal the cost and cravenly mad sanity.

crushed bones, smashed tombs. everything passes i deny my own death
rattles as gasp, grab, or yawn. i unsettle this mo this meant no trail
of tears. only this

point the way this body in naked embodiment...

 


Bio: Cheryl Pallant is a writer and dancer living in Richmond, Virginia. She teaches in the English and the Dance & Choreography Departments of Virginia Commonwealth University. Her books include Uncommon Grammar Cloth (Station Hill Press, 2001), a chapbook, Spontaneities (Belladonna Books, 2001), and the forthcoming Into Stillness (Station Hill Press, 2003). Fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous literary and online journals in the U.S., England, Australia, and the Czech Republic.


Southern Perils

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