One trance is not so easy to tell from another. The shape a trance sounds. It can’t hear itself sounding.
I wanted the other life.
“I wanted,” which means resisting what’s already beginning all over again. What should I do, would’ve done differently—merely plot problems.
“Today” is a word to say only if I mean it. To mean a word, does that make it one of my names?
Can my name store its properties in every word differently?
“I most especially love having time to be the structure.” (Bernadette Mayer)
Out my study window, a thin paleness between hill and sky incarnates
change that is neither edge nor entry, neither hill nor sky.
A rejection of neither
is a movement soul might always be making, while my body goes on mistaking itself as one thing and not the other.
Except, maybe, when I’ll have to die.
What I saw in my mother’s face
after I returned to the hospital, and the nurse told me I’d missed her death.
Very clear glass will become apparent only in the glare of certain angles
though the glass had been there all the time.
Even if salt is quiet as cinders, there’s a sound it makes before it touches ground.
An image can hear this, but not the figure I am
inside it, though I have composed the image entirely of listening. I know this
isn’t about my mother, like the earthworm that I picked up off the asphalt knew
it was no longer drying out
when it landed on grass. Maybe the same grass it had taken so much effort
to leave. Though leaving
nearly killed it.
I never intend to disturb her—I imagine her extending,
but singularly, keeping to herself, sleeping her infinity
Though every sound of her is tooled into my horizon.
Once upon a time, a child was born to a peasant, who named her Intimacy. But she was stolen
and given, surreptitiously, to a noble woman
whose own baby was stillborn the same day. Probably the noble woman knew,
but, desperate for a child,
she raised Intimacy anyway, though always with a little bit of
on both sides. This was their first problem.
Salt will carry into all four directions, if tossed expertly. While each grain
may not be obvious, each is obvious
in its insignificance. Which is the image I can’t finish, since the obviousness
in anything is infinite
Her eyes were left open for me to see her
exactly as she had been, said the nurse, alert for my arrival at what was
though now can’t rightly be called my mother’s room.
This morning, outside my kitchen window, no jay, just a bobbing branch.
Densely furred along its stem, an anonymous weed in the yard, already limp,
even as I just begin to pull it, root and all, from soft earth.
Even the fur, already altered.
And I saw in her a sightlessness, the kind of looking that is finished with any
giving off of self, but still held
some of her contours, a shed skin.
Expectations, under even ideal conditions, can’t be trusted.
But my favorite wooden kitchen chair will rock backwards onto
two of its four legs in only one direction.
A seemingly windless morning, two tiny puffs of cloud, distant and spherical in
the square of sky I can see out my window,
gliding as smoothly as two geese on a river, disappearing together at
the window’s edge as if it were a river’s bend.
Of what? Not of disappearance, which is plainly singular
in every loss.
Replicas of the smoothness to which I am most vulnerable.
Can’t ask why of the wedding ring. And loss is never anyone’s
confidant. I did ask my left ring-finger,
which would swell purple when I wore the ring. It’s just sickness’ doing,
says the remnant of bruise, not the ring’s.
A ring is simply a round rendering of purpose.
How can I have lost it? Does the sickness need my entire, undivided attention?
Now I have only pure regret at my absent-mindedness, an intensity thickening to
I take sixteen pills a day for the sickness, and I never lose any. Even though
counting out their various colors and shapes
is like carrying water in a broken pitcher
to a bowl with a hole in it.
“Mortals who descend to Hades after having contemplated these mysteries, only
they can expect to live there.” (Sophocles)
Meaning the rest of us will just go on dying in Hades from stubborn allegiance to
our particular evil.
I go on asking why. My evil isn’t going to send me a warning, a sign,
and certainly not my wedding ring, which I know I’ll never find.
Though evil is always listening.
As a child, I watched the mass, how it includes in it all the housekeeping. Drink
the blood, then clean out the chalice, then fold the moist cloth and kiss it.
I’d watch, thinking that if I were the priest, I’d be sure to kiss the dirtiest part. I’d
want to get my lips in where it’s most damp.
“Olbios was an adjective used to describe the state of an initiate, meaning ‘happy’ and ‘fortunate’, and ‘going to your ruin.’” (Agamben)
Rusty Morrison is the author of five books, including Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta 2014), After Urgency (Tupelo 2012) which won The Dorset Prize, the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsahta 2008) which won The Sawtooth Prize, The Academy of American Poet’s James Laughlin Award, The Northern California Book Award, and The DiCastagnola Award from Poetry Society of America. Recent poems have appeared or will appear in A Public Space, Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, PEN Poetry Series, Talisman, The Literary Review(TLR),The Volta, VOLT. Her poems have been anthologized in the Norton Postmodern American Poetry 2 nd Edition, The Arcadia Project: Postmodern Pastoral, and Beauty is a Verb. She is co-publisher of Omnidawn, www.omnidawn.com. Her website is www.rustymorrison.com.