from Letters in a Bruised Cosmos
I might sit in a chair and watch as a stranger’s brain appears
on the screen, slice by slice. It is the gruesome cum digital
and it what rues this world. I could plot a correlate of thoughts.
Still I will never know you, only myself in relation. Letters
in a bruised cosmos. Who am I writing to? You and everyone.
A rape in every generation of my line within the time
of photography. Have I made myself accessible enough?
There is a real power in the semipermeable. Danger of the underbelly
exposed. Tripwires of any tree rooting itself to the ground. In the forest
I would often trip where the roots surfaced in partial relief against the pine
needled ground. Smelling of sifted blood in full summer, iron oxides, ochre.
Now I paint my body with Sephora.
thrown my lot
a burnished head
at the ready to rot
no lily white
at the dam’s ready
my timber silt hard
a brother’s ideation
among the earth
I’ve got promises
I’ve got to ask a question with lichen in it
My hair with streaks of caribou moss in it
Give it up
My bad ankles and wet temperament
I set out in my work dress into the back seat of a strange man’s car. “A beautiful day,” in an accent I can’t place. The worn spillage of North York goes on in burnt umber coloured brickwork. And I have myself become a stranger. Walking down the street older women study my face, I think, to ascertain whether or not I belong and when we lock eyes in the final moments of our passing I never know the answer.
When I enter the hospital I see Kafka’s face. He stares out at me from a print in Warhol’s “Jews of the 20th Century” series gifted by a community member. Sometimes the lobby is filled with the smell of frankincense and the sound of women singing in Hebrew. Many of the eldest elderly came here as children after the war, survivors. This is a place of final refuge and a place I am paid to peer inside and tease out the machinations of the living human brain.
The walls of the upper floors of the research wing feature work by Inuit and Native American artists. On Fridays, after the lab meeting, I will stare into the eyes of a man’s portrait, an unnamed warrior who resembles my great-grandfather. My great-grandfather fought in the First World War. I was able to get a pdf of his war records off of ancestry.ca. He was wounded in France, a bullet to the left shoulder care of a German, just a few inches away from, in so far as I can ever know myself, never existing at all. I’ve also heard that my grandmother’s brothers fought in the last war and what they saw there left them unable to speak of it. One uncle took what he couldn’t say to the train that killed him. In many ways service was so much harder for the native infantry. I stand in this hospital of survivors looking into the eyes of an unnamed warrior. The cosmos knows how to hold such a moment. History, which is a sewing motion. Time collapses. One is a bruise for being forced into an assimilation that doesn’t fit. Pia mater. Dura mater. Tender mother. Hard mother. Each membrane does its part to protect the surface of every living brain.
I broke a puss capsule in my
rind of my mouth’s inside
I could pack a gauze to choke
the story, cup my cheek and think
on irrepressible haunts
cortisol of my stresses exes
pillows my face, a stone fruit
I’ve been arraigned to the couch
with my curfew cut short
as I black out
As a child sometimes
I would receive a flick
to the centre of my
forehead. A flick
to the skin above
the skull bone
the cortex that
together with other
neural sites organizes
the sense presence
I experience as me.
Every love poem
is a self-portrait
in the last
of light while
I texted myself:
“reading early Goethe embarasses me like childhood’s razor edge”
With a fresh razor
I will often catch
the skin over
the surgical nail
embedded in my right ankle
and a little shock of red
will snake its way
down my heel
into the pinkening foam
Small moments, minor passions, ill-considered missives into the drain of days.
Always it is like this.
All the night assembles my subject
All the night, the shape of one’s self
And what do you find there
Beyond the quiet and the dark
That I was to do away with all of it
Then decided to remain
Reforge myself inside tomorrow’s humidex
Slant listless, answer the messages
Order eggs and begin again
Let there be light
And there was light