Kirsten Kaschock

WindowBox 17.

On youtube, on a woman, flogging. Subtitles read, “It is to be 63 lashes.” Someone subtitled this.

She keeps pleading for her mother, there is laughter, a pattern on the back of her robes is like a target.

Someone is telling her to sit down and put her legs out in front of her.

A car she seeks refuge against. Bright dirt.

Dance teaches this little: what scant thing video has to tell me of a moment. Of movement. The suppression of movement. I do not know what the gap is between video and other realities.

I may have been pregnant once. Three times. The woman, she may have been an adulterer. A lesbian. An intellectual. I do not see.

I am worrying about my own offense. Digging in the bright dirt.

Butterfly effect—chaos is a theory. I agree we should worry, Wilde. I agree we cannot, Assange. The whips stir air I will feel some day.

And the air I stir?

I agree. I digress, I concur, I reject.

They laugh, spit, come after me... am I, Mother, animal?

WindowBox 18.

Insomnia is a window toward every wrong direction.

I hold nothing against me.

The museum of sleeplessness holds every tiniest thing against me, up to mine eyes, a double-dog-dare.

I do not want to live there.

I want to require a heart of each bird-chest outside of each schoolbus.

Against the wall a grainy film of one of the twins, the threat of them in the seventh grade sharing my lovepoem with the other boys, the worse brother.

Cut to me walking a thirtieth time past his house building a bravery out of twigs.

Insomnia is a gallery of embarrassments, a richness, the full complement. Heavy as sticks of butter in the night.

A slab or pat or a slap of butter, spoonsful of sugar. Indelicacy.

They point, laugh. It is cartoon, a single-celled strip. I am that cell.

So naked, humiliated by dream recurrency. The universe points. The universe laughs. The schoolbus window amplifies the event into a single shot.

I ride away and they abuse him. Nice-to-me, he does not make the mistake again.

When sleep comes, it is of the schoolbus, against a rattling pane. Cold spot of bruise. Pressed upon, re-pressed, tendered.

To tender is to pay.

WindowBox 19 (Insomnia).

The window is a bed.

A choreography I make when I cannot sleep: there is a sleeping partner, an unsleeping partner.

The bed does not come apart in flame, except if it does.

In Italy—a family, half of whom at a certain age cease to sleep. Nine months later, these die. It is like a whisper. A waltz.

My sleeping partner does not know the dance done with masks and torches in our very window.

In the morning I am tired, and continue.

In Giselle, a dead ballerina keeps her betrayer through the night. He will not die. This is the story—that she loves him.

She does not let him sleep. Much in this bodies cannot tell, do.

Last night, a fire on the news. Last night seven children died while a three-year old went to fetch her mother from the barn. Father in his truck.

Fire likes a bed.

Our dance I do in a room next to another room, steeped in children. No tragedy.

The Italian family, theirs is a prion disease, a smoky veil over their lives, the folding of proteins into eventual fatality.

Centuries ago their sleeplessness ended in townspeople and torches, now it is a room with ropes. Endings tied to beds.

There is a tendency to hurt others, the self: the narrative arc of a curse.

Giselle’s mad scene ends only Act 1, because there is more.

The smaller family. A mother, a father, a three-year old who will or will not grow into her waking life, a mask over the other one.

Is the story—that they live?

Kirsten Kaschock is the author of two books of poetry: A Beautiful Name for a Girl (Ahsahta Press) and Unfathoms (Slope Editions). Her novel, Sleight, will be published by Coffee House Press in fall 2011. She has earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and is currently a doctoral fellow in dance at Temple University. Kirsten lives in Manayunk with her three sons, their father, and a small boxful of Needs.
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