Issue 116, Fall 1990
As an archaeologist unearths a mask with opercular teeth
and abalone eyes, someone throws a broken fan and extension cords
into a dumpster. A point of coincidence exists in the mind
resembling the tension between a denotation and its stretch
of definition: aurora: a luminous phenomenon consisting
of streamers or arches of light appearing in the upper atmosphere
of a planet’s polar regions, caused by the emission of light
from atoms excited by electrons accelerated along the planet’s
magnetic field lines. The mind’s magnetic field lines.
When the red shimmering in the huge dome of sky stops,
a violet flare is already arcing up and across, while a man
foraging a dumpster in Cleveland finds some celery and charred fat.
Hunger, angst: the blue shimmer of emotion, water speeding
through a canyon; to see only to know: to wake finding
a lug nut, ticket stub, string, personal card, ink smear, $2.76.
A Kwakiutl wooden dish with a double-headed wolf
is missing from a museum collection. And as
the director checks to see if it was deaccessioned,
a man sitting on a stool under bright lights
shouts: a pachinko ball dropped vertiginously
but struck a chiming ring and richocheted to the left.
We had no sense that a peony was opening,
that a thousand white buds of a Kyoto camellia
had opened at dusk and had closed at dawn.
When the man steps out of the pachinko parlor,
he will find himself vertiginously dropping
in starless space. When he discovers
that his daughter was cooking over smoking oil,
and shrieked in a fatal asthma attack,
he will walk the bright streets in an implosion of grief,
his mind will become an imploding star,
he will know he is searching among bright gold threads
for a black pattern in the weave.