Charles Freeland

from Albumen

In which anyone wishing for illustration will be disappointed because there is no precedent and no parallel. We are original to this position and no others can follow. You may imagine however the line inside a circle. At the intersection we are the rectangles that are both suggested and separated from one another. The number of such is infinite. But they do not exist except in relation to the circle that contains them. Let two of these infinite lines exist, D and E. The ideas of both exist in terms of the circle and the rectangles that are formed. The ideas are different, are somehow other than the ideas of the other rectangles which are not formed but merely suggested. We are the rectangles and the ideas of the rectangles. But we are not those created by D and E. We have not yet been created.

Seclusion is a dirty word to those who haunt our memories, who bound around inside them like rubber balls. When I am whispering your name, the breath seems somehow painful, full of microscopic hooks that catch on the lips and hang there. A bloody foam turns up in the narrative because the narrative follows a logic very similar to that which applies to our bodies. But out here, we have nothing to show for our enthusiasm. Just a bright ball in the sky that keeps receding as if it has been given news like that we received a year or so ago which told us our time together was drawing to a close. I still remember the scent of burning charcoal, the high-pitched wailing that was coming from the other side of the creek. It is a testament to the strength of the fibers in the twine that held that portion of the world together that we are not all now tumbling head over heels through empty space, our minds so preoccupied with the position of our bodies in that featureless void, they fail to register the sense impressions still being sent from the outlying parts of that body. Like the fingertips. Which are, of course, whorled. And rarely used to deliver anything more substantial than pain.

In which we articulate virtue through reason which is neither proud nor withering. When we are ignorant of what we are, we are ignorant of the basis of virtue which in turn makes us ignorant of the thing that virtue might restore to us, though the consequences are not nearly as dire as that sentence might make it appear. You are not ignorant of anything that I can tell, but I am another story. Between the two of us there is heightening of spirit that belies the impotence of spirit Spinoza speaks of. Perhaps you are responsible for this and I am merely the beneficiary the way leaves are the beneficiary of branches. Pride arises from a form of abasement but it is not self-abasement. And it is not the abasement of others. Perhaps it is the abasement of abasement, or of itself, whichever phrase you prefer because it avoids — or conversely, creates — the obvious pun. By the time you read this, your dance performance will be at an end and I will have missed it.

Bands of light follow the outlines of your arm so that one is reminded of the markings of a sea snake, but only momentarily. Obviously no one in the room has actually seen a sea snake in person, or if he has, he has kept that fact secret because to announce it is similar to announcing you are looking for someone to make your mornings less lonely but you are not too concerned with your mid-afternoons. Occasionally, when I pick a stone up off the ground, the wind changes direction and I am inclined to attribute causation because if I don’t I will be left with more questions than answers and the phone will ring but I won’t know that I am supposed to answer it. In fact, I might be picking it up constantly even if there is no sound in the room but that of someone snoring in the corner because he has spent the night drinking black and tans at the bar up the street that advertises itself as a place where people go to forget their troubles. But does not advertise itself as a place where people go to forget their middle names.

Charles Freeland is Professor of English at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. His book-length poem Eucalyptus is forthcoming from Otoliths. He is also the author of Eros & (Fill in the Blank) (BlazeVOX), Through the Funeral Mountains on a Burro (Otoliths), and Chilean Sea Bass is Really Just Patagonian Toothfish (Differentia Press), among others. His website is The Fossil Record.
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Blogger LMG said...

Gorgeous pieces here. One can only hope they are part of a larger collection (will that be "Albumen"?) in which Freeland explores the philosophical boundaries of body and emotion further, a la Spinoza.

6:48 AM  

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