THE WONDERING CLASS
I think the stomach means we cannot love one another properly.
I think the stomach is our one true eye.
I think the stomach is an ingredient.
I think the fingers mean we are too small inside one another.
I think the fingers mean our roots became bone and we lurched away
with a new agenda.
I think the eyelash means we can float to the ground like snow.
I think the eyelash means we must not appear burned.
Some of us have been burned, but that is not what the eyelash means.
It is unprepared for. It is the other side of the world.
The other side of the world is intricate with the lace of forests.
The other side of the world is a euphemism for disease.
I think disease means the cells have rearranged to mirror something fast and jagged
approaching from the sky.
I think disease means full expression.
I think disease means the river truly was as golden as it seemed.
THE PIRATES OF GOLD RIVER
You want a place to keep it, a place for it to be, a repository, a source. For the gold.
The gold you feel all day burning inside you, gaining supernatural value,
threatening the leadership of your head. The gold fighting to display itself in your eyes,
pulling you toward other people, turning the heap of togetherness into something
permanent and musical.
You were mined from a hole in the earth that you belong to like larvae belong
to a honeycomb. We all have a home, but it's a law of dispersal
that not all of us will fit back in it.
To be loose at a time like this is to lose your teeth and be a pirate entering the sun.
You begin with a town because a town is where it begins. A town is always
lost or buried. It's always obscured by raw mountains. You are always in the dirt
digging it out. Hunter, drifter. Species: marauder. With your thorax boat
and your old face whipping at the top of your sharpened mast. With your forked arms
and your improved relationship with the monsters of the air. Water and dirt
serve dutifully as your two emotions.
Gold River collapsed on itself, but before that, so did everyone in it.
The hand in front of your face became rapid and disturbing.
So much for the preciousness being stashed in the body.
Eventually our bones became the spoons that stirred us.
We are safe, the body is ruined.
The real voyage begins as the joints unlock, every instant a shining hill or valley
beyond ownership—original, unseen, utterly remote and detached from the place
you were a second before. The living room walls are a new form of sea, the sensation
in your knee another box inside a box sinking with its treasure through the silted bottom.
The main island is no longer your head. The self becomes a desperate way of holding on,
of stringing things together, but that's been true for a long, long time.
A metal city grinds in the distance. His fingers rest in pieces on the seams of her face,
bone on bone. The other option is to turn to jelly.
When the pirates finally arrived, desiccated and coughing, Gold River was back in full swing.
Strings of lights had been hung between the houses, and the pirates found
that the festoons and the twinkling were exactly what they'd been missing.
So you are a polyglot, fluent in water and digging. With no clearly demarcated head,
your hair's no longer sure where it should grow. Sea creature.
You gave up your body and went to live in the foam. You stung people
with spiny ridges that weren't yours, floated up under their chairs
with contagious tentacles. Abyssal plane. You float in and out of your cave
with no arms and legs, newly electric. Your old body bloats in the corner. Harbinger.
Contaminant. You and your kind. Now you want to go home? To be alive?
To have a tiny house, a sweet and personalized explanation, a hole you can swim through
in and out of this world? I don't think so.
Kindness. A table pulled out under the sun for several generations.
Look at the insanity expressed in the mechanics of the knee.
The winged desperation of the pelvis. The wind passes through it as if through a curtain.
What do you think? Maybe lace. Maybe cut flowers near by.
THE RIVER (THAT IS WASHING HER AWAY)
IS A SYMBOL FOR SEVEN THINGS
To the class (that isn't there):
Once we have fully described how the evening arrives
(it steps out of the trees), we can turn
our attention to the area of the tongue
that experiences sourness.
The rain is sideways, and Miss Peach a vulnerable powder.
By now a paste.
To the class (in a black dress like a box into which she puts herself):
Men of a certain age, a certain "background." Shuffle papers.
They will ("awash," "cloven," "indolent")
ironically detail the, for them, crushingly unknowable streets
of rural France. Rural France will once again
be a stand-in for your tight bottoms, ladies. The irony will once again
be somewhat instructive. (See 20th century, the)
The sense of being crushed will, once again,
be the source of the erotic in the story.
Some girls inevitably form a thin paste, a rime of high voices on the stems,
a layer of film over the fronds that seals off the roar coming from the forest.
The quiet wears a human lace.
To the class:
The senses are. We'll leave it at that.
What do you cross girls with? Are you kidding? Storms or debris
classically. Telephone poles or trees, depending on the century.
The sounds of a cat unable to deliver her backlog of kittens
because of the design failure of her own body. Links of sausage,
stone-ground flour, a vat of maple. The dust of ultramarine pigment
in the corner of the painter's studio that you shouldn't breath.
Fill out a form, man. Are you going to eat her
or do you want her to burn down your home?
Do you want to die from the inside out or the outside in?
Would you rather have all the smooth, round stones turn into eyes
or have all the eyes turn into smooth, round stones?
To the class:
"To describe" is probably not to "to know"—you're all devils. Put the chalk down.
My glue. My child. My runny mixture.
You're separating into simple parts. You're in reverse.
Soon the ingredients—baking soda, flour,
the sickness after great laughter—will be back in my hands,
the gasp of revelation will be shoved back down my throat.
To the air above the students' heads:
To the class:
If you turn and look out the back window, you can see what some might call a face
pressed against the glass.