Nostalgia for the Present



On a sphere, any given point,
with a straight line through 
any other point, 
leads back into itself,
an enfolding, like thought ,
or bees flowing about
a transient queen.
“Where are you going
with all of this?” one asks
as if there were


an implied direction 
to my directionless wanderings.
Destinations are inconsequential,
not from anyplace, nor to anywhere.
Told time and time again,
the story is familiar enough
for the present as it was of a past:
a time out of sequence
a sequence of disjointed sequences.
Beyond the depth of  sound,


all flows, around, past, through
each and everyone:  I and you.
The story told transforms the hearing:
the rain, the flood, the drought
the shadows across the mountains,
are like the angles of light across Rouen’s cathedral
while Monet madly fixes paint in time.
The ebb and flow of conversation,
when you are in with words,
lulls you with an apparent ease,


like the soft sushing of wave on shore,
or the whispers dancing through a cottonwood;
the light iridescent in wave froth and leaf twirl.
Interpretation is mistrusted and unwelcome
as the touched relative, who instead
of exposing himself at dinner, exposes you.
Context is not stable.
“What did you say?” I don’t remember,
but I remember what I heard.
No carved stone slabs stand

to fix meaning- – – and then even if – –
the wind does not wait
to wear the words away.
Dust rises and whirls words away
like spiders, newly hatched, launched
into air, floating on strands of silk
searching for some perch, some anchor point,
from which to weave their world.
As we talk, content and secure
in the seat of ourselves, the weft


of our words warping our thought,
a fire pulsates arbitrarily between
the sound we speak and our intent
casting light and creating shadow.
Smoke bellows into the darkening sky
like magma bulging from the sea floor
forming solid clouds beneath the waves.
In the dark the presence looms larger – –
outlines of tree, bush, and grass
grow beyond their daylight selves,
not shadows, nor shades lacking light


but themselves stretching into the night.
We are but a collection of consciousness,
no more independent than an amoeba
sliding across a petri dish.
Tsunamis crash against continents;
lightning spasms the air;
stars explode fusing molecules:
hydrogen to helium to you.
When is the world at peace?
When we have explained everything away,


or when we stop paying attention?
Our attention, what we tend to:
our backyard gardens with sunflowers,
the slights and faux pas of the workplace- –
who said what to me and I to you.
These everyday obsessions,
(pale mockeries of the desire 
we no longer posses),
force our focus deeper into abstraction.
The first sun’s rays each morning before school


slanted through the slattered shutters
of my mother’s room.
The broken crystal intercepted the dust-
mote besotted light and shattered
rainbows across the wall.  The mind,
(mine, yours), intercepts through words
splaying thoughts into an iridescence
like the halos of Kyrealian photography,
a vague diffusion of edges.


With our endless search for a cause and its effect,
We further fragment time until, sliced and julienned 
ready for a processed dish of our creation,
without awareness or responsibility, 
we annihilate the present.  Yet this is a metaphor 
I cannot stomach, so I turn the ball and find
another point from which to start, like a bee
flowing from one flower to another.  Not repetition
of a pattern, but a new trace laid across an unknown 
field, the line a parabola rather than an arc.

(from An Ambiguous Demarcation, 1997)

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