Each hue is defined by wave length
or frequency. How often or far apart.
The inconvenience of closeness, or
the memory of longing for
harmonic intervals of light
filtered through the human eye
and, sometimes, the mechanical eye,
yet how we discriminate these wave lengths
is not well understood (in light
of other things we know) and apart
from corresponding frequencies for
each prismatic color or
manifestation of color or
what resides harmoniously in the eye,
there is an equivalent harmony for
the musical ear, which collects length
and time, and, in turn, plays a part
in the generation of light
but cannot identify single tones of light,
like notes fingered on a piano or
a cello plucked as part
of an orchestra performed at the center of the eye.
To take red, any length
of red, and mistake it for
the afterimage of green, for
the deposit of complementary light,
is to speak of harmony to some length
and the joining of two or
more colors behind the eye,
pretending like vision is not a part
of what makes the body a part
of a machine for
forgetting. What makes the eye
not a tool for collecting, but for losing light.
To suggest that the human eye is satisfied, or
in equilibrium, is to deny the comfort of length,
the redemption of length,
the restlessness of length, or
the longing for memory of light.
grew from my mother’s fingers, sprouting
in the dirt under her nails and sending
their shoots through her veins.
Her lungs were filled with bitter earth.
Her feet became clay and crumbled under
the weight of trees. Hyacinths took root
in her liver and lilacs
perfumed the air too sweet.
Roses sprung from her womb.
We picked their berries
for our tea.
Etching, woodcut, and monotype
20" x 8"
Woodcut, monotype, and silkscreen
19" x 8.5"
There has been a small fire, burnt
tar-paper in a wastebasket, an accident
of no consequence, really—a thimbleful
of water tamed the blaze—but somewhere
buildings are burning, and I feel it is my
fault, like I have called the flames from
the cold sky with my witchcraft of longing.
I watch a calf being birthed in a pasture
surrounded by high red cliffs. I boil fresh
eggs still warm from soft underbellies
of chickens. These things are pleasant, yet
undeserved. At night, I sit with my books.
Somewhere, a fish is being angled for
off-shore. The hook in its mouth makes me
seasick, metal taste rising in my throat
like an anonymous threat. I keep changing
my address, shift from hotel to rooming
house, just to avoid the hook, the reeling in.
Oil on panel, 17" x 17"
As a child
to what was
to the chasm
the spoken words
that floated out
in the air
like morning mist
to the soft sighs
the soft syllables
to the breaths
the Oh… yes
and the Maybe… so
We press on, firing furtive glances
at the sneaky walking of the gull
determined to drop it, make use
of the foundationless to kill his prey—
the blue-black mussel that plummets
from air to pavement, maybe
three times, before it cracks
open to reveal its yellowish spoils.
Then we watch his stubborn take-off
into the sky which reaches out
and holds him firmly and which,
as though with tender hands,
tethers his wings to one place.
There, practically motionless and calm,
there defying the laws of gravity
and casually triumphant, he faces the wind.
like that of a brook—
without malice or guile
as when humans were good,
and gain could be got
with lesser vexation.
Then follows congruence
of wind and trees,
of the musical
with the metrical accent.
Each word, a birth.
Like a morning walk
beside a white fence
I wake up early
and take a walk
into dawn’s sky.
I meet a shadow
way up there
who doesn’t remember its source.
The moon is still out.
I fold some moonlight
and put it in my pocket for later.
I run into an old routine.
I feel at home
A poem asks for directions.
I don’t know my way around
these skies either, I say.
Then I meet a future without a past
and it tells me that
my absence does not exist.
How can I talk about my presence
without my absence?
lands on my ear and draws some words
out of my brain.
The poem keeps staring at me.
After a while it asks
for a kiss.
Back when I used to be Indian
I am reaching toward the light
with both fists, yawning,
growling like a flower.
Mother pushes me, gasping.
Mother pushes me again.
I swim out from muffled
cradle, dripping blood,
salt of the very first
flood, first wound, I uncurl
upon the island shore.
Mother pulls me, gasping.
Mother pulls me again
to her weeping breast. I drink
and begin, with one shaky eye
to search for my father.
The room rattles with empty.
In the hallway hoofbeats fade.
Millions cry in my veins.
“Continue” was originally published in Mark Turcotte's Exploding Chippewas (Triquarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2002).