The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2022

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APRIL 2022 Issue
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Winter encourages disappearing behind masks and misted glasses, while
delicate health calibrates the future skeleton. Talk softly now, softly. Of the
many vanished.

On the Day of the Dead. Thousands of candles on new graves. Inscriptions
a profusion of garlands, angels, grief, and grievance.

In spite of the general slow-down I move as if thrust forward. Carried
away, and between. Though I know the names of some diseases in both
English and Latin.

In what is known as the "unrequited life," we gender discreetly and
transform around the tongue. Because we are language. No matter which
day, sentences thread across the room.

There are worse places. But the distrust of the periodical table has lead to
virulent prostration. Lungfuls of sand.

I swat at a fly, fine-meshed superimposed on difficulty. I isolate in order to
love. There are many things my lips have not encountered.

Meanwhile my hands usurp communication, waving across mandatory
distance. Their positions look natural. Though devoured by the itch to

The day is in digital code, like everything now. No, you say, but it's almost
over. The trees mere shadow, the lake a dark wait, sentences seeping
toward sleep.


I would try to approach. Would touch your skin though its cells are no longer
capable. Of division. I still hear you even north of earshot. And would forego
angels. For recapturing the beast.

Though I've breathed air all my life, suddenly. Its lack of resistance. Pronoun
without referent. The words that died on your lips, your afterimage subtracted
from the light. Emotion greater than accounted for by chemistry, decay, dust,
gusts of wind. And there are less birds.

I was taught to keep my soul, as if one could. In my pocket. Not get it picked in
the jostle of kidney, liver, genitals, heart.

My memory of you casts a shadow that is getting darker. We die with each loss,
you said. Over and over.


E.g. a fish. Here, in the water. The differences of nerve cells forming codes. It (this
fish) in swimming. Accentuates a perfect regularity. Black stripes firmly
embedded in the brain. A striated universe? Never sleeps, never. Stops its
prescribed course. Not even for reproduction.

The water (describe?) excludes propositions. The multichannel problem between
two thoughts (fin strokes)? Not logical. No soundtrack. No models from past
history how to look at the world (the other side of the glass)? No, it is thought,
mental life.

Is there at least some satisfacrtion? Like rubbing scales with other fish in the
school? Heavier than water, they must swim throughout their lives. Vast
aggregates of cells, salt saturating every moment of death. Which science or
commerce will dissect. And light, since all bodies reflect.

If information equals form, then ferocity (e.g. morays) human behavior? Nerve
cells never at rest. No acquisition of personal pronouns. Blindness mistaken for

Fish! Without secret to lose in semen or semantics. This silence without cause or
end. These nerve cells emitting a single signal. This darkness. These restless tides
of electricity.

Inflexible. Imperturbable. Incomprehensible.


Rosmarie Waldrop

Rosmarie Waldrop’s most recent books are The Nick of Time, Gap Gardening: Selected Poems, and Driven to Abstraction (New Directions). Her novels, The Hanky of Pippin’s Daughter and A Form/of Taking/It All, are now available in one volume from Northwestern UP; her collected essays, Dissonance (if you are interested), from U of Alabama Press. She has translated 14 volumes of Edmond Jabès’s work (her memoir, Lavish Absence: Recalling and Rereading Edmond Jabès, is out from Wesleyan UP) as well as books by Emmanuel Hocquard, Jacques Roubaud, and, from the German, Friederike Mayröcker, Elke Erb, Peter Waterhouse, Gerhard Rühm, etc. With Keith Waldrop, she edits Burning Deck Press.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2022

All Issues