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This Body a Sea

ISSUE:  Spring 2012

She wrote what she wrote. Her digging dug her out
of Dark down here and hard to breathe into Bright enough
to turn my stomach, gotta squint, can’t tell where I am.

Can’t tell what season this is supposed to be, can’t guess
what sort of storm is likely, what species of bird
might be migrating through. Can’t decide who to tap
for what advice until I know which problems are mine.
I have the feeling of being watched, but not watched over.
It doesn’t faze me that your mind is difficult to trap
because it lives in a strange region. There is no map

that does not suggest the strange, and no map
that does locate and configure it, name it
what its natives name it. If I name it first,
will I then recognize it when I see it?
Or must the naming wait? I’ve waited this long.
Does the region’s being strange make strange the oceans
that surround it, or is it made strange by their being stranger?
If names don’t work here the way they work there, do numbers?
That was the decomposition of lessons
and this is the invention of questions

such as: Is there a one-to-one ratio
of lakes to clouds? Who would know? Who keeps count?
To whom ought it matter? Because I can drink the water,
I know not to call this body a sea, but it’s wrong, too,
to name it a lake when I can’t see across.
Tell me again how to distinguish switch from brome.
One of them stretches farther behind me than this water
stretches before. Through one of them a man is walking.
Room after room withdrawing, out of room,
gloom out of gloom uncoiling into gloom:

that’s how he described what he described when he thought
he was warning me, but not what I saw when I went
where he told me not to go, the whole time asking myself
the question he forbade me to ask anyone
I should pass along the way. I passed no one.
The strange is stranger to the partially blinded
than to the partially deaf. As a girl displaced
and excurrented, I postulate that strange
dislocation, unconfigured and unkinded:
a boy as a place but disorderly but minded.


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