Mean Free Path [excerpt]
For the distances collapsed. For the figure failed to humanize the scale. For the work, the work did nothing but invite us to relate it to the wall. For I was a shopper in a dark aisle. For the mode of address equal to the war was silence, but we went on celebrating doubleness. For the city was polluted with light, and the world, warming. For I was a fraud in a field of poppies. For the rain made little affective adjustments to the architecture. For the architecture was a long lecture lost on me, negative mnemonics reflecting weather and reflecting reflecting. ... I finished the reading and looked up Changed in the familiar ways. Now for a quiet place To begin the forgetting. The little delays Between sensations, the audible absence of rain Take the place of objects. I have some questions But they can wait. Waiting is the answer I was looking for. Any subject will do So long as it recedes. Hearing the echo Of your own blood in the shell but picturing The ocean is what I meant by * You startled me. I thought you were sleeping In the traditional sense. I like looking At anything under glass, especially Glass. You called me. Like overheard Dreams. I'm writing this one as a woman Comfortable with failure. I promise I will never But the predicate withered. If you are Uncomfortable seeing this as portraiture Close your eyes. No, you startled ... Unhinged in a manner of speaking Crossed with stars, a rain that can be paused So we know we're dreaming on our feet Like horses in the city. How sad. Maybe No maybes. Take a position. Don't call it Night-vision green. Think of the children Running with scissors through the long Where were we? If seeing this as portraiture Makes you uncomfortable, wake up * Wake up, it's time to begin The forgetting. Direct modal statements Wither under glass. A little book for Ari Built to sway. I admire the use of felt Theory, like swimming in a storm, but object To anti-representational bias in an era of You're not listening. I'm sorry. I was thinking How the beauty of your singing reinscribes The hope whose death it announces. Wave ... Numbness, felt silence, a sudden Inability to swallow, the dream in which The face is Velcro, describing the film In the language of disaster, the disaster in Not finishing sentences, removing the suicide From the speed dial, failing to recognize Yourself in the photo, coming home to find A circle of concerned family and friends It's more of an artists' colony than a hospital * It's more of a vitamin than an anti-psychotic Collective despair expressed in I-statements The dream in which the skin is stonewashed Denim, running your hand through the hair Of an imaginary friend, rising from bed Dressing, returning calls, all without Waking, the sudden suspicion the teeth In your mouth are not your own, let Alone the words
From Mean Free Path by Ben Lerner. Copyright © 2010 by Ben Lerner. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press.