Academic journal article Chicago Review

What Are Islands to Me Now

Academic journal article Chicago Review

What Are Islands to Me Now

Article excerpt

For Barbara Guest


carved wood, bronzes, tracings ice crystals leave on the windowpane; coat it with paraffin, then scratch whatever you like into the wax, the design can be quite delicate; the acid bath - careful, the least splash will burn your flesh away


away at last, the long dark slope of the land captured in haze, the broad sea, sluggish at first; my heart's ablaze, she said, something is certain to carry us somewhere full of purpose; don't ask me how I know these things


these things left out in plain sight, their present arrangement not the least bit reflective of some initial intention; consider the number of people who pass this way each day, that certain objects are picked up and moved around and others may be gone entirely, stolen


stolen moments, it was a song they heard long after everyone else had gone below, patterns in the engine's throb, perhaps, or an actual voice, low and faltering with emotion; if it hadn't been for the song, he said, or its possibility, the mere likelihood of pattern and recurrence and their consequence


consequence, might as well say it, an event of single consequence; imagine the mire of occasions and our habits of attribution, the more or less troubling accidents of speech, collisions of all sorts; dear rushing heart, is there less to us or more or simply just what meets the eye


the eye is now the problem, imperiums of sight, one after another, glance, gaze or glare; do you remember the orange itself, some other orange, or paint curling light into a skin of apparent brightness, incidents of touch, not merely recollected or assumed but edged into the space between canvas and pigment


pigment of choice or chance, the night's permanence in steel gray, oiled and polished, the brush of chilled dampness across your cheek, curiously reassuring, the way you sometimes bite your lip against the possibility that nothing occurs even at that short distance, a proposition in which cause matters or choice or deliberation


deliberate as the trail of the immediate past, the line of sea foam opening behind us, its certainties loosened among wave-tips; of course, we have a sense of destination, that a line of green trees, underscored with white sand inevitably awaits us, a shore against which all these moments fall


falls like light across her outstretched hand, along the shell he raises to his lips, rustles among the brittle edges of leaves its own busy agitations; sand castings, the intricate weights and measures, domestic gods and goddesses, balanced against seed grain and sea salt, briefly certain in their sight


sighting across her upper arm, the way it was turned toward him and her breast his first horizon, the room a focal haze; a snarl of sunlight among carnations, not so much seen as imagined in the sun's glare, red picot cream colored petals recalled more than seen, the moment teetering there

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