Sunday, May 07, 2006

Witness (by Claire Shefchik)

I've been sifting and measuring down on the windward side of the mountain. Flagstaff is not in Arizona. Flagstaff looks like West Duluth on an Easter morning, with wooden-porched houses and German short-haired pointers in front. I am trying to be alone; I am trying to remember what it was like to be alone in a place nobody knew. If you are in a strange place, you need to come home and show me why. If this goes, I have broken that tenuous link between the new place and the old, except that maybe having a past there is actually that bloody badge of legitimacy and nativity I've been craving. I need you to greet white monuments for me; I need you to gobble up stone for me on the steps of la Scala. I won't ask for anything. I'm tired of asking, but most of all I'm tired of getting. If I faded into a cairn at Newgrange, maybe they would no longer see me; maybe my breasts and lips and legs would turn as hard as the stone; as the earth. And quiet would return. And how to return there, to see a place I know but have never seen? My mother told me it was OK. My mother told me I was fine. My mother told me that I might have to break free. And you would witness another new cradled stage in me; the one that only looks backward, at what I cannot keep but cannot discard. In the fall, in the bed, in the garden, in the house, you would witness.



Response by Marina Kaganova:

For thirty seconds I thought nail polish covered my fingers in blood, but then I woke up. I only find that amusing when someone asks me about poets and countries. In Austria the cardborad cut-outs of Mozart holding his candy balls cut me open, even if I was smiling. I could have waited, and I could have tried to only go to three cities, but I could never pick them out of the crowded map. Your mother and mine might have met, but they never did. Shame, but maybe at one of our weddings. I think of these things now, and how you can occupy your place in mine, should it happen, should it happen late, or should it be sudden. I think of how mixed things always are. Will we ever be filtered, or is it always someone else? Bad music can't even answer to itself, let alone me, let alone you, even if we are both there, and my journal is floating up and down a cold stream in the middle of a furry forest.
Someone will obviously become wiser and see more things. But for now,
I'm filling up my ashtray, and hoping more of it is leafy.


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