Barbara Maloutas

FROM On Porto


This twinning, the neighbor lets it happen, often encourages it. Words are unique and cannot exist in double. Doubleness, doublings and double talk, that's what we halve and fork-tongued is a worry to some. A mother's tongue is first in mind always, in his and theirs. Yet the unique is already always split, part and whole. We say something. We cannot say only the truth. Something and truth are parallel to this day. We say tree but this is not truth. Tree is something, that's all.



Only in words are we aware. No tree is aware of its comical slant. Each tree is only responsive. Awareness is gone the moment it is given. Look how it swoops and produces. This bottom line is also in the grove. Each winter pruning supports it. Ulysses bathed in oil. His scent was the scent of residue outside any olive press, outside my mother-in-law's island house. He reeked of oil. The press is there, no zoning, not even a hall of records. Land is owned as long as there is memory. Small things like rocks are turned where the plow turns, each has their boundary or edge. I've seen stolen rocks turn up in walls.




I recently picked up again Giorgio Agamben's Idea of Prose. It was so spare I could not make it clearer but finally acquiesced to an idea of narrative and blended something like Agamben's philosophy of language with the experience of pruning olive trees on a hill called Porto on the Peloponnesos in Greece. It was a way of expanding his thought, of thinking it through as collage.