Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lineage

I.

In this dream that I keep having, the tiny thing is alive. It is white and precious and sculpted. It is new. Like a thought that balloons and balloons in the corner of your mind and then, from the briefest, slightest lapse in concentration, vanishes to the farthest reaches of knowing.

But this is not how it happens. Wakefulness is a hard edge from which you peer. You can step off it, can't you? Then there is the matter of loss.

Disclosure: I am the last descendant of survivors of a steamship disaster, my fathers, my mothers. Afterwards, they assembled on the grey shore, each one blanketed about the shoulders by sackcloth, rough wool, foreign arms. It is hard to see them now in the mute footage of the mind. They move and affix to anything, like names.

So it is said. Method comes to me. Method comes to me as desire comes to me, always with surreptitious negotiations, hidden debt. I did not grow up perceiving lack. It's not the same. Can one feel one's mouth? Is it there? Yes.

The state of after is always the same. They lock the gates to the church cemetery. The cars approach slowly. I can see across the square to where you are, though it is never you.


II.

But the thing is not a thought. It is a child, newly hatched, the size of a fingernail paring. So let me start over. I have woken from a nap to answer the insistent tapping at my back door, and a man I hardly know presents me with this tiny child. I try to find a warm place for it, a safe place. But as I stand there, trying to decide where, it slips from my hand and disappears into the fibers of the carpet.

Was it always like this?

A concord of absences, imaginary pulses. The engines outside drawing breath. Light coming through the curtains. The sound of a man singing falsetto on the other side of the wall.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Keith Tyson's Big Belly

This morning I woke up thinking about Tyson's big beer belly. Headless, limbless, crotchless. Just a disembodied belly with hair and a profusion of it, surrounded by empty beer cans. I appreciate a one-liner at a big shot show; it's (see, Yalies?) memorable.

I also had a bellyache.

Last night I did an interview with SB about the Ice Sculpting competition he and his mother participated in this March in Alaska. I like that, when one refers to the procurement of ice from a natural body of water, one uses the term "harvest." One harvests ice, as if wheat or soybeans or cabbage. S proceeded to tell me about how, being a novice, he at one point almost shaved off his hand with an orbital sander, spared only due to the fact that he was wearing three pairs of gloves against the harsh Alaskan climes. His uncle runs the competition and owns the Museum of Ice, its noncompetitive correlative. When I asked S how his uncle would come to start such a thing, he said, "This is going to sound corny, but the man always liked ice. When we were little, he would always send us out to buy ice."