Sunday, June 20, 2010

27. Following from the Fact

That the day would end
with the thread of storm, not
a storm bearing, eventually, down
on this lake, the waves whitening up,
the just-perceptible sway in the hemlocks,
all the earth we’d know darkened
but the swiftening clouds, smoky yet
wet; instead,
the sense that these sheer cirrus would,
inevitably, draw behind them
the next and the next and finally
the next until the world
would come to that point
of roiling forth and out, such
as it is, such as
it has to be.

What we see
is whatever is sewn together into
a piece, fashioned into
place, given over to some stable
state, which might be
a mirage, or vapor, breath
without cold to make it appear, cloudy,
before our talking mouths, the hot
smoke of the body condensing
into cloud, formations, shape-
shifters, each dispersing into
oxygen, invisible, silent,
tasteless, without form
or the sense that it might
even have form.

The world is made piece by piece
as we walk up to it, just in time
for the seeing. Talisman in place
of touching, we make it up
as we move through it, taking
what evidence we can. A fleeting
memory of a Baltic past, a tiny corner
of a country on a coast, and the colony of
a small language (aitäh for kiitos, and
everyone is welcome). Coming
from places so small that almost no-one
is from there. Tie the pieces together,
and you might have a bundle of letters,
something in a language you never knew.
The memories and emotions of a dead man
seem so real at the point where
the blood drains out of him, but soon
he seems post-human, a pitcher drunk dry.
If there had been praying over his body,
it is now gone. The sound that remains is more like
ticking and the dull grumble of the house
as it breathes warmth, as its blood
goes through it, hot and cold. We create
these bodies to live within so that we might
consider ourselves human. Even
after the fact of that.

Memories are words and movements
not recorded in place, not restricted by the articles
of accuracy to refuse mutation. Collect a story
from your grandmother, and you’ve stolen
the manufactured truth she’s remembered
from her childhood, full of trips to a supermarket
she never saw as a child. Ask your grandfather
for an explanation of a fact, and he will provide
exaggeration before exactitude. The world
is too boring for the truth. We need
something else, the story our mothers
can sew together from an almost recalled past,
the tapestry of a life, full from edge to
edge, free of lacunae, the solid
textile of a story we could believe.

The sun rises every morning
after rainstorm. The story is sunshine,
though the ground is wet. The sun requires
the precedence of the rain, each in tow,
each a segment of a string of events, each
forgotten as the days continue, until
there is no rainstorm, only rainstorms,
until the sun shines day and night,
and you cannot sleep
for the thinking of it.

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