Fixing the world is a matter of both dramatic and incremental measures
What if we were bigger or smaller than the we thought we were. What if in the patterns of a woven rug there were streets, the lineated confluence that from above looks a bit like a llama designating a marketplace in which each strand of wool is a pillar holding up tiny fruits. We might then ask ourselves who lives here, who buys (do they buy) the micron pomegranates and brings them home (do they home) to split them, beat their nano seeds into a waiting bowl with the back of a wooden spoon. We might wonder if the pomegranates come from the red part of the carpet, the part that is pomegranate-colored, the part of every rug that is pomegranate-colored. If we are smaller than we thought we were, we tend to our lemon trees. The shadows crossing us are reconciled as vapor without instinct. If we are bigger, perhaps we sweep across the rich mazes of the rug with the tip of a violin bow, shifting the patterns ever so slightly one way, then ever so slightly the other. Perhaps this looks like movement or the desire for movement. Whether it is felt as a breeze or hurricane is a function of our ability to interpret what we cannot know. Our ability to gauge the circumference of the combined sum of what we can hold, what we could shake into nothing but choose not to.
The universe isn’t particularly concerned
…on the contrary, it doesn’t even bother to fill in
the remainder of the test sheet. But we go on thinking
about the specificities. A cedar waxwing punctuates
a bush, the hard berry in its beak reminiscent
of difficulty, of our last meal. And everything sticks
out from this world in such a way that we are become
a spiny chestnut hull, bristling against the fire
that makes us sweet. Again, it’s small, edible things
that help bring us into focus. The waxwing swallows
the berry whole, we make gestures about nourishment
and too many birds in too many poems. The continuing
cold makes us tear up, reddens the nose and the cheeks,
a reminder that there is almost nothing, at any
point, separating what’s inside from what’s out.
The other day I had to make a decision between two trees—
and couldn’t, for fear that both were rising from the ground
in escape, that both were an essential spine. This time
I mean the bones which make us human. As much as
we skirt the subject, the language we conjure from
the very base of our skulls shrivels to a fine powder
as we throw it into the air, in celebration or in grief.
All these little collisions which throw off the light
of being destroyed. We chew up the leaves and feathers
and spit out the changeable space between molecules—
the berry, the branch, the scaly embrace.
The bass line to Ciaran Lavery’s “A Ragtime Song” is almost identical to that of Ani DiFranco’s “Pulse,” she finds out at thirty-three
The latter of course being the song to which many forms of rocking happened, e.g. both of the back and forth and the more cranial variety, as well as discovery, for instance, of certain physical truths, to be more specific, that the lip and the earlobe have a similar give, that hunger is a bad metaphor for an overarching need to embrace, that one’s first real sexual encounter rises up out of fumbled attempts to convince oneself that the round peg goes in the round hole very good A+, in reality, DiFranco’s bass lines have always snaked beneath her lyrics like a toe sliding up the inner leg line, in this instance I look at the bug metaphor and I think how am I supposed to write anything about the girl that I loved and hurt when it’s already been done for me, “all the rest of that bug stuff,” artists like The Weeknd are now generally seen as the pinnacle of music you’d want to do it to, which is fine I guess if you’re into super aggressive heterosexuality, but let’s make a fucking playlist (get it) for the cautious, for the sweet scared probing and the breath sour with nerves, for the stereo in the age of the blobject, for Absolut ad collections, for the fact that drunk is, in fact, a very good metaphor for the vertigo induced by encountering yourself in her hands, in the dark, where even were anyone’s hands, why is that the first memory to go, for my apology, which I have been performing for seventeen years, which I have drugged away with a pharmakon of inadequate maps, for my devotion to the dim image of that four-poster bed, which flew at me like something out of a Madeleine L’Engle story when Lavery’s song came up on the radio, something about the ears, how they carry the shocked silence of a song whose chorus is everything you said you’d remember.
Kimberly Quiogue Andrews is a poet, critic, essayist, and Pennsylvanian. She is also the author of BETWEEN, winner of the 2017 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Prize from Finishing Line Press. A two-time Academy of American Poets prize winner and a Pushcart nominee, her recent work in various genres appears or is forthcoming in Rambutan Literary, Grist, The Shallow Ends, The Recluse, the Los Angeles Review of Books, ASAP/J, and other venues. She lives in Maryland and teaches at Washington College.