Geof Huth

Words upon the Opening of a Thought

Of course, I am post-avant, “after before,” a pose poetical, a stance ironical, I am
words, words on a page, the soughing of breath, the sloughing of sound for spectacle,
the noise that comes after a thought, wind broken by beans. I am the apple in Eden
that couldn’t be eaten, but I am ate. When Eve takes me into her mouth, her teeth
delicate against my skin, the sensation is curiously pleasant. When she eats me,
she swallows, swallowing my essence, the pulse of my coming matched with her
swallows, graceful birds cutting arcs through the blue sky I cannot see for my green eyes

are closed, and it is twilight, so I cannot tell if the swallows are swallows or bats
out for the coming night, living their brief crepuscular existences against the hope
of catching some summer’s insect in erratic flight, for blood, for candlelight,
for now. In the shadowy dusk, I swallow a swarm of gnats surrounding me like
the night’s cloud, something like regret when measured against the opportunity
a life affords. Each gnat, I see, is a period, the end of a sentence I have just spoken,
conclusion to each sentence of the day, my words reduced to their essentials—

the simple number of strings of knotted words, the cardinal number of quipus I
dutifully carried through the day, half for myself, half for the dead minions who
came before me and said, Take my words forth. Thus thou shalt have these words
to speak—those who came before me, leaving behind their thoughts, which I could
scoop up like a scattering brood of chicks that do not form a collective whole, that
disperse like droplets of perfume from an atomizer, that perfume my neck
so that my scent might entice those around me to listen to me, the man

of the sweet neck, a sturdy band of muscle around the throat through which my
breath travels on its journey into voice. I speak only those words I learned as a child,
the words of my mother busy with her spices (cardamom, turmeric, turgenev), the words
of my father busy with his postage stamps (tête-bêche, perforation, apollinaire),
the words of my playmates (booger, loogie, whitman). I am hungry for words, holding
only enough to talk about food and stamps and those bodily functions we snicker at
since we do them in private, just as Eve and I mate in the Garden of Thorns,

our entire world a spiked crown piercing our skins, our lives disrupted by the sins
of our actions, the infelicities of our words. I came here to name everything for you,
so that you would know what everything is. Thus, the refrigerator is a tapir, its long snout
smelling our crotches as we reach into it for a beer; the automobile is a pangolin,
its armored body wrapping around to protect us, its deepest thoughts, and its deepest
self from the sun’s blaze, the rash cruelty of the physical world; the hand at rest,
a scarlet ibis, its curved bill digging through our ears into the soft centers of our brains

for meat, for the tastiest thoughts, the best words. I could name the rest of the world
but I am post-avant, not of this time, but after before this time began, an elemental
substance that would be protyle if it were not instead the last substance of the earth,
the final element everything would become. Every confused thought, every clash of
words on the page, words on the air, words through eye to beleaguered brain, combine,
in the end, at the end, to this, to me, to these words post-avant. We are moving towards
perfection like a train towards night, and it is all around us. If we could understand what

we say, we would know we had missed our stop, a mechanical arm held out to catch
the mailbag as it went by, each tiny message from each tiny mind folded into an envelope.
I am not myself, never have been, no time to define a persona, just a vessel into which
pours experience like wine, the evening’s wine-dark wine, dry but fruity. Drink it down.
Have another glass, for the night is young, young like the earth, young like the billion
nights that preceded it. If you hope to make it to morning, you need the other drink,
you need to know who you are. I am, of course, post-avant, not before but after it,

not made but making, not one but many, of the night—mothnight, mothflight, mothlight—
and no number of words laid out in a row like a day’s catch will make me ever be me.

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Blogger Sheila Murphy said...

amazing work by Geof Huth. Thank you.

5:44 PM  

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