Excerpts from "Inserting the Mirror"

The dusk swelled and lengthened every shadow, a version of time not suited to the
ephemeral. For if you concern yourself with what belongs, but doesn't fit, turning your
wrist like an angler out of season who, sure of his catch, throws his line into a cross-
section of air, the picture forces its particular application on you. Schools of thought
emerge and are hooked in an instant. Others flit across the danger zone with tail fins
flashing, and the alphabet ceases to be a disposition of the mind. I wondered if a brace-
let would strengthen my analytical capacity.

With difficulty, the lamp outlined the limits of the dark where the objects sat so
opaque, so at home in their silence. Not a clarity in which all problems simply disap-
pear, not breaking into space like a triumphant bird. Rather a dim lamp. Specks of dust
moving in its cone, a fine attachment to the light against their grain. As you might be
stirred beyond all reason by the signs that form a word, an easy motion, clearing lips in
a euphoria that can be taught to skid toward the periphery. Or again, lost in the fog. It
will cling to you no matter how heavy your boots.

Given the distance of communication, I hope the words aren't just idling on the map on
my fingertips, but igniting wild acres within the probabilities of spelling. As a hawk
describes circles whose inner emptiness bespeaks the power of gravity, where the lever
catches on a cog of the world. There, the mild foreground for buying bread, for the
averted doubt that the hand will encounter. There, with dizzy attention, I hold the be-
cause, another key to the bewitchment of words.

I worried about the previous occupants of the house, their traces burned off by daylight,
unless a silence that grows more attentive as the hours wear on, some intangible bond
among absent faces that outweighs my lack of purpose, the stillness of my posture. This
is what makes the wallpaper so neutral as far as my affection goes. Its pattern rotates
bits of landscape into orbits of definitive distance, like chrysanthemums celebrating
All Souls. It's not one of those pictures which I cannot get outside of because my lan-
guage repeats it to me over and over, inexorably. From behind rocks, a boat is heading
into a promise of archipelagoes and coral islands, then travels into more faded patches
as into so much fog.

Because we cannot penetrate the soul, at most touch its outer lips with the reflected
light of metaphor, the soul cannot know itself, but the dimmer light holds off loud
breathing. It's not that our sense impressions lie, but that we understand their language.
All through the linear seasons, the sun leaned on the shoulder of the road. Flocks of
swallows lost vaster reasons to the sky. Salt travel. Statues which adorn the uncon-
scious. My hopes crushed by knowledge of anatomy. Or is this another error, this theory
of erosion, of all we cannot see?


Rosemarie Waldrop

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