From The White Notebook
Knitting the bones of the dead, you say.
What makes us different is what makes us the same.
(With writing comes forgetfulness.)
viz, The origin of Chinese ideograms – silhouettes of birds in flight, tracks in limestone.
Others find their alphabet in shape of constellations, animal organs.
(The Chaldean aleph, for instance, is a map of early migrations out of Eden.)
Writing from Ravenna, Cassiodorus notes: the Venetians live “like sea birds
with their homes dispersed across the surface water,
and secured only by osier and wattle against the wildness of the sea.”
So we return once more to the scene of the crime.
(This time the statues are wearing togas of snow.)
Yes, Life, the great gift, calls to us & we must come.
Youre finger fell on NONSEQUITURS TO A WAKING WORLD.
It began, Fish, fish, where does the water begin?
& ended with an aria from “The Barber of Seville.”
In between, a disquisition (in German) on Cold War immunology,
language as communicable dis-ease,
how everything is constructed against its own shadow.
Distinctions melt in that subdued light
Where you are walking backward through your own body
& a child sings, I am already nothing…
Askeoff has published two books of poetry. He directs the MFA Poetry Program at Brooklyn College.
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