Academic journal article Transnational Literature

The Impossibility of Flight/100 Words

Academic journal article Transnational Literature

The Impossibility of Flight/100 Words

Article excerpt

Unplumbed ocean,

and this is the problem list.

Fireworks: A posy of damp squibs, a bucket brimful

of tubers mouldering, as we look skyward,

with spiderlings catching in our hair; rockets

by the quiverload, but our touchpaper drips

with condensation, our saltpetre dissolves

in spraydrift, and we wish for tarpaulins,

a momentary break in cloudcover, another

day when we can ignite Bengal Flame, burn

Roman Candles, and pink chrysanthemums

bloom all the way from where we lie to Mars.

Operatic aria: Soprano, carrot cake. Tenor, Irish Moss,

or a descending cadence, slipshod, Ionian,

Aeolian, lost for words, as we await the coda.

Should we join in? Should we sing along?

With knife in hand, rasp in throat, where

is the appeal of a midnight assignation,

when hail thrums hard on naked tympani,

when sounds of violin and contrabassoon

recapitulate the plot we missed, assert

the fate that beckons our hungry return?

Satellite radar: Has anyone seen the latest surface chart?

Calculated mean wave height? Maximum

integrated pulsatile power? Immersed in

stasis, all we can say is that the Doldrums

must be upon us again. Over the horizon,

if only the fog would lift, we might detect

filigreed minarets with the promise of gold

and incense and allspice, if only the current

drawing us inward would pause a little, if

it might reverse its quickening vortex grip.

Belladonna: No Morning Glory, Everlasting Daisy, no

thorny espaliered Briar Rose, not unless

your night-vision, coal black, dark-adapted,

peers through the guylines and puppeteers'

strings that tangle, disentangle, our sense

of Magnetic North, the inertia, the inability,

to move beyond illusion and crystalline

hallucination, to prevent spin and whirl,

unrelenting vertigo, until you count to ten,

breathe in, hold, hold, nowhere near home.

Amelia: Heart of Earth, misplaced, restored to earth,

or, depending on location, your deep sea bed,

there to sleep anew, to toss and turn, jostled,

pushed by phantom arms, restless impressions

of legs with minds of their own, that desert

the body, stroll, saunter apart, leaving you,

(dear sweet brave you) emulating a mermaid

in a storm, sinking into abyss, hopelessly far

from tribute or admiration, finding yourself

in the surprisingly good company of worms. …

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