Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Brazen Mail

Split Skin

The years come down to naught but
A catalog of places to avoid touching.
Oh dog, stop gnawing your sore spots.
You forget where all the wounds are
Until night, when the coffee table grows claws,
Or a bright morning--you're clearing the garden,
And a wild twig, light green and high
With grassy juice, snaps back at you.

The last condo office lady used to put a poetic or inspirational quote on top of the weekly bulletins she'd hang in the foyer. Last year around this time it was from Longfellow: "Magnificent Autumn! He comes like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. His crimson scarf is rent." Except she had a typo in it and it was "His crimson scarf is tent." And I'd see it every morning and think, that's really interesting, that a scarf could be a tent. What a weird sort of modern construction for Longfellow to come up with.

Photo: mine


Slothrop said...

Impossible to pinpoint everything that's wonderful about this one. Your internal rhymes are as subtle as ever - "naught", "gnawing" - brutal terseness concentrates its power, and your imagery is straight up hallucinatory. The sense of time (years, night, morning) feeds perfectly into its spell. Because it's about phantoms that time can't erode.

I especially love the sudden aggression of the twig. A friend once told me that the physical world is neutral - "You're projecting feelings, actions, etc., onto it with your consciousness" - and I told him that to know that you'd have to see the back of your head in a mirror.

For a long time I've felt that one of the worst things about aging is collecting bad associations w/ innocent things. My jaw still hurts every time I pass a corner where I got knocked out at age 17. And yeah, at night there is no escape.

Sally Wilde said...

thank you--going to steal the back of your head thing--i'm an amateur astrologer, and one of the strongest ideas it's based on is that the configuration of planets and bodies at selected moments set up an imprint that resonates every time these come into some relationship with that original spot--the spot of your birth, an eclipse, etc. i don't know if i "believe" it, but it's a useful organizing and symbolic language...

Sally Wilde said...

that's so weird, to post i got this thing that said "prove you're not a robot by selecting all images of pies" and it presented a menu of images, some pies, some not. turing tests are culturally biased!!!

Sally Wilde said...

then i just got one asking me to recognize pancakes. i could amuse myself with this all day--a judgment i'm fairly sure i can pass is a rarity

Slothrop said...

I'm actually thrilled by every opportunity I'm afforded to prove I'm not a robot. It reminds me of an eternity ago when I spent some weeks in December trekking through the Nepali Himalayas. In a moment of weakness I trekked for a couple of days w/ a Harvard premed student because he'd had the sense to bring a map. His trekking philosophy was to march as fast as possible from point A to point B w/out stopping to take in the views, look at the tribal villages, admire the glaciers, etc. Meanwhile he would talk about Harvard.

On the last day we climbed from a warm vale full of bamboo & flowers to snowbound, desolate foothills where even trees wouldn't grow. The last mile he began chanting at me, "Look at our time! We are MACHINES! We are MACHINES!" I just had to break away. Didn't come to the Himalayas to be a machine.