29 Mar Daniel Sebastian Baker
HERE NOR THERE
This is a discourse on several topics neither
Here nor there, but very closely related, and
Certainly of deep significance. Actually, it’s more
Of a discussion, a kind of pastime, simply because
We’ve stopped long enough to pay closer attention.
It’s less present upon the senses than barbiturates,
But takes itself close to your ocular extremities
Just the same as a slowing method, suitably
Fulfilling a latent longing for nearsightedness.
When the movement of these thoughts takes
Shape, slowly and grey at first, the words are
Punctuated by bolts of light, a spike from a
Window above—not to be claimed. Drifting
Down the keys the thought forgets it knows
Itself before it decides to speak, now
Far too discoloured and inappropriately
Dressed for the occasion it longed to engender.
In a soft anticipation of colours outside,
A processional of abstentions ambulates
The breech of solitude.
There is a river not too far from your house,
I’m told, but I haven’t seen it. Did you visit?
Ah, still outside myself: restraint can
Be a method of entering the world—
Though the world knows little of that.
There’s a river that can seduce you to a feeling of
Ascension, when you try to understand how
The various dams operate—their way, they
Know as segmentation. Because of them we
Would swim naked in drinking water, a child’s
Suburban resistance carried downstream.
Treading, treading, a prelude to what comes next,
A voice for something to call its own, sensibly.
The rain doesn’t seem to stop for days, it doesn’t
Seem to stop for time at all, or me outside the
Train station when I pulled the scarf up around
My shoulder and thought how we might come
To a frame by frame understanding of light,
When it chooses so surreptitiously to deflect.
I mean I’d like to see it before I concentrate
On the way it shines on the dirt clumps by
The side of the road, where when I dig my fingers
In, already caked and dirty, in search of particles
Amidst the raw redundancy of soil—I know you’re
There already, I wasn’t looking for you—and find
They’ve already gone on to images with a bigger
Budget, a particularly glossy disappearing act.
Words uttered the way the expectant astronomer
Sees known stars, self-assured they are preeminently
Far off. This is far too much seven pm to take in one night,
I’d rather spread it across several others, but then there
Wouldn’t be enough time.
I have faith in my ability
To take time, but not in knowing
The measurements thereof. The red
Linoleum flooring seemed more
Apt to count the minutes, until
Your arrival declared itself. But I wasn’t
In the room any
Longer. The desk holds objects nearer
Than we’d like them to be:
Social security card, not mine. A reminder
Of our paid intrusion. You’d like
The way the owner dances, the clacking
Of ballet slippers. Don’t tell me what
We forgot to bring here. The logic of sense
Imposes itself on objects undeserving. They
Said this water was potable, but it’s
Neon green. Chemical technology
Is an understatement for alchemy; the fireplace
Here is an electric one, — means on and
O means off. Coded language protects our secrets:
You’re definitely — now, the
Way your cheeks flush against someone else’s
Spatial memory. I’m closer to you here but
My eyes are O when I try to speak. In this place,
Words are dead ends because we are literally
Surrounded by graves. Why would I take us to
A house in a cemetery? when you already spent
All week asking questions of the dead, your
Life boxed up, ostensibly at war with
A paternal past. “Sometimes the Stoics say
the signs are always present,
that they are the signs of present things.” Divination
Could lead us to grasp why we came here. But when did
We come here? I left on the train this morning,
But arrived yesterday evening and the
Bottle of wine was gone before I drank it. When you
Got here we were farther away. O — O — O —
Between on and off there must be a moment
Daniel Sebastian Baker is a poet from San Francisco, California. He is the founder and co-editor of Oneirocritica, a new print journal of language and art. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.