If you want to understand where the cicadas have gone,
you have to pry the exoskeletons off of the trunk;
you have to look at that cut running down its hollow belly.
You have to learn brittleness and brevity. You have
to put the remains on the ground and wait it out.
To sit beneath the tree and let leaves cover them up.
To allow roots and water to decide whether to keep them
or carry them away.
And when they do disappear, you have to close your eyes
and let go of that sense.
You have to keep still and retain your silence.
You have to let time do as it pleases and stick to the task
at hand. Never flinch; you have to be calm
until the labor is over and the sounds return.
You have to bury your entire body into the ground
and start waking.
Because Here They All Want to Forget
Proust and Wittgenstein, I’m now convinced,
will have gone to hell. That is, if Art
weren’t willful enough against all dogma.
I was about to say my skin betrays me
this late afternoon, amid foreign faces, new
signs. But I realise beneath all colors are
the waiting bones, a whiteness that
will outlast all facades and my wanting
mind. Maybe this is why this urgency
exists. No beauty is useless and there is,
in me, this need to devour all
disarray and put it back in order
as in that beginning—long ago—before
memory (a word I now distrust). Why
am I so guarded? I want to let loose
onto the world all my recklessness. I
want to come across a language so strange,
I can speak it. Within the body are wings
but it will take ages for someone to wrench
them out of the skeleton. So I will continue
wearing my heart out and say things as they
are: nǐ hǎo, hola, ciao, kumusta? Hey,
evening; we both won’t last too long, but
here’s a word you will never own: day.
(Whether that made you smile or frown,
I can only imagine. I was no witness.)
Trauma can endure a lifetime, can
straitjacket the affected
and become the perfect excuse for
not remembering. The room is dark and
there are no windows. Time allows for
this complacence. Lunatic be memory! I
said I distrust it, yes, but that does not
mean something did not occur. I do not
understand indifference; that’s a conscious
thing. But look at tragedy in the face
and tolerate it: you will never ever
forget. That’s supposed to be recovery,
a nine-letter word like September
or an eleven-letter one like firefighter.
Voice tends to stay numb, to shield itself
from pain. And that’s artificial. Rise,
that other voice says. Jung knew what was
going on: ‘Whoever looks inside, awakes.’
It’s either you peel the skin off the onion
or gaze at the exposed bones. The latter
is preferable; you will end up with
more of something than nothing.
Things That Vanish in the Process
Kids in the playground. Sun
that pushed out of their bodies
an assortment of glee. A river’s
This suspicion that decay is a way
to ripen some sadness in the leaves:
the same leaving that snaps
twigs and allows for litter, copper.
The throat. A vigorous descent
of shadow, which is also severance.
Even that sickness called Consumption.
Much less everything. But not the tree,
never it, no matter how