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These Underwatered


ISSUE:  Spring 2012

If even thumbnails bear me messages—
your blood is borrowed but the bruises yours to keep
then where am I, and who? Was my disappearance
reported to the authorities before I learned of it
myself? I could know I have gone missing
only by report, but where would they send the delegation?
Where did they send it, that it never arrived here?
I can’t quantify my location. I can neither
interrogate nor represent my fascination
with forms of interrogation and representation.

Or is it that I can interrogate only
forms of interrogation, represent only forms
of representation? Would those conditions,
those limitations, be so different from one another?
I know you are telling me something your words are not,
but I can’t connect your posture with your intonation.
You are to me an ocean, beyond governmentality.
What good has it done me (read: what good would it do)
to understand that there can be no purification
of knowledge, power, subjugation, and mediation?

How does it help to know that power is
power of subjugation? The subjugated know what
the powerful need not. There’s still above the wreck
a slick to mark the spot at which it sunk,
though the leak turned long ago from news to history.
We stood gun together, he and I, for a year
aboard a ship we hoped would stay invisible.
Now we stay ashore, where gales blow crows backward
instead of gulls. Even if, as I fear,
we’ve not been here long enough to disappear,
they may have been here first—am I wrong to fear that too?—
and taught themselves to disappear us. Who says I can’t choose
for my ambition the ambition to go missing?
Who knows by what, besides or as part of this sublime landscape,
I am surrounded? I hadn’t known my longing
to be a neverbeen until I knew these underwatered,
I hadn’t guessed the burnlessness of rope sliding through my hands,
the indifference of oil’s silent rising to the slick, until
I lost those days defending the hemmed against the tattered,
nights pretending the dead never mattered.

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