The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2017

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MAR 2017 Issue



The Story of Geology

The story of geology has been
to destroy; has been flux and fire;
has been to create just as it should;
has been difficult for living
creatures; has been exploited
and drilled; contains fossils
as concentrated centers of
petrified time, markers of strange
places, lifted from seas unto
mountains, lifted from low
to high, to skies, to ridiculous
heights to be discovered by people
later caught in ice; buried stomach
contents reveal last meals and head
holes reveal human nature; broken
arms healed and unhealed, recovered
and not recovered; paleolithic people
lived longer and had better teeth, had
more stable social systems, made art
with time to develop as a
community-supported activity, art
that lasted and still lasts, art
that follows cave’s curve, art
that disintegrates in rain, that dissolves
in breath, art that takes place
in the center of a circle, in earth’s
heart, performed; the story of art and
geology has been of quarries, of pigments,
of ochres, of sienas, of terre vertes, of
haematites, of lead, of transparent
mummies, of malachite, of lapis
lazuli in war zones and continually
shifting to new sources glimpsed on
satellite or worked out via computer
models, then treaties and currency
in exchanges, the exchanges of thin
lines drawn over large areas of
land; or sometimes following rivers
or other barriers, mountain ranges
cutting off peninsulas and then
mysterious languages; from a world
created just as it should be are water
levels cresting, is a river that floods,
are grasses, drought, and cracked soil,
are mudslides, wildfires and debris,
are minerals, large cracks and white
expanse of salt breaking speed
records. The story is all of your
canvas being lost at sea, is an
avalanche, is a split-second decision.
The story is heat, oil and light.
Everyone is sleeping; everyone
will have been caught
in that position; everyone will
have left breakfast dishes; murals
will have been preserved and
their colors will be bright and
beautiful. Someone will fill in
the paints and guess at what
the faces used to look like. All
of it lost, all of it found. All your
visitations, all your pilgrimages,
to suffer over the fields of
razor-sharp stones on your
knees, carrying an easel on
your back and the solar-
powered 3-D printer. You
will set it up in the hottest,
sunniest spot; it will be a
temperature unsurvivable
for humans, everyone else will
be huddled in biodomes
with desalinization plants
smoking on the horizon, as
the artist you are invulnerable,
you will set it up and each knob
you twist and turn will
shape an enormous pile
of plastic gathered from under
each tree, from the sides of rivers
and creeks, from trash cans along
mountains, from highways and
trails, from the insides of fish
stomachs, from the centers of seas—
all in the world that is permanent
versus all in the world that is fragile
and temporary. All that persistent
detritus must at last degrade back
into a spectrum of colors, which
will stay through erosion whether
over and under, color to persist
through breathe and ground—that
will be your greatest invention still
and your story to tell.







“tremor of form”


on six-foot areas of placement, or less than (fewer than)
uncountable persons agglutinated to
mass of eyes                           impossible to control

the prism of the drawing tool                   would cause the fabric to
hence causing the line to curve                   hence the bird flies counter
to the textiles                         the reclaiming     of what litter

would be     it like that                      would be somewhat like
that     if I thought toward you                        would be kind of somewhat
you moving along the timeline                    you ahead a sort of dot

and behind us that pluralized group                all hands legs and eyes
digging behind them as they move                   looking for something they
don’t have   didn’t have    not                    looking ahead as they push

causing the fabric to give a little    yarning it up
the pool on the street is of threads   the spigot is giving it up    hence causing
it being colors, fraying         if color can fray

hence causing the line to curve                   not square
don’t square your shoulders       continue as dot            you
will be ungraspable circular,                    unpursuable



in this discussion                         just as I or would like to compare
how genes are absorbed in                     in absolute space
the response to existence in                       
absolute space                            (or under incredible pressure)

      as one repairs itself                     to drift forward in deep ocean

as one is self-repairing                     in deep space
yet lacks motivation                       intense gravity
or motivation is not part                     or intense lack of gravity
of the repair process
                                  causes migraine or religious
                                  fervor to be alone in this void

                                  home of this us all together



enlighten in light then                      this tentative essay
that from either side                         half glows
                                     gold versus

in weights how much

lean back                              or in wood

or small part of one                      



I reach                           and take, asking

“what is the
primary duty of repair”?

how can I apologize for my echoes?

                              you silent over here
                              allowing me to pilfer

silver, gold, silver, gold


no                            not silence, deafness

tin, arsenic, copper, gallium                          amplifier, receiver
gold indium magnesium (compounds)                      electrical circuitry
palladium platinum silver                          amplifier, receiver
tungsten                                   electrical circuitry
                                       electrical circuitry
                                       electrical circuitry


liquid crystal display                             liquid crystal display

mica, sheet
diamond, dust, grit and powder
asbestos, copper
gemstones, graphite, gallium
indium, iodine, manganese
quartz, crystal, tin, tungsten
not silence, deafness                  one side
my impermeability                  you are not silent
at all, I find                      over centuries I start
to hear what                    you are saying, barely



same components as mirrors                   same components as reflections


between symmetry                         and asymmetry
line off glass                           and lead mercury
arsenate of lead                           quicksilver
lining                              a fast reflection
a flash                            but no blur


a recollection

a small contaminant



the angle of incidence



                                  ahead of the reflection



like that, calling                       across a distance
wishing                         across a distance
everything                       across a distance


if I take one step and divide in half
then divide in half again
and again                         we never arrive at

where we could be


so,                            void, or voids
the voids Descartes sketched               void to void, oval with dark
spaces between                        the void and how we
are not aware of other bodies               blind to what’s ahead

of our heads: see, see!




Marcella Durand

Marcella Durand is the author of The Prospect (Delete Press, 2020) and a recent recipient of the C.D. Wright Award in Poetry from the Foundation of Contemporary Art.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2017

All Issues