Charles Freeland

from Against Memory / Rabbit Fever

Each morning the geese pass by overhead reminding us with their otherworldly grumbling and their odd webbed feet colored very like the bile and other liquids that escape the body after terrible collisions that we had better remember our pasts down to the finest detail or we are likely to succumb to the widely held (at least recently) belief that we are not entirely human. That we have been plucked up somehow as if by magic from the sludge on the floor of the oceans and placed out naked in the hot sun for reasons that don’t quite add up. Reasons that seem flatly sadistic when examined over toast and mimosas in the morning or later when the wind intensifies and the windows rattle in their frames like someone hard pressed to gather her breath due to love or illness or simply the passage of enormous quantities of time. After a great deal of effort I manage to rip portions of a single piece of paper free from the underside of the desk drawer where it has become stuck. I place the resultant fragments out in front of me as if trying to decide which one I prefer. Which one strikes me as the best hope for beginning the process all over again or perhaps forcing it to come to a close. When I simply can’t make up my mind, I sketch a very small pictogram or two in at the edges, a skill I picked up while on scholarship abroad, but the part that is supposed to look like the roof of a house is almost always skewed to the left for some reason and this alters the meaning so significantly you’d think I had simply decided to invent my own way of communicating because all of the previous ways had failed miserably. In fact, they are stacked up and intertwined in the corner, driven there one after the other by their own out of control momentum, and when you try to separate them, to allow them each to attain once again a modicum of its own autonomy, the crows – who have to that point been observing mostly dispassionately from where they have gathered together outside in the branches of a tree, object and even begin to throw themselves violently at the French doors, so that some of them are inevitably killed and some are maimed and some simply turn around and fly away and are never seen around here again. If only we could mimic that passion, capture even two thirds of it in our everyday lives – which are tinted and drawn out, made to feel as if they have no choice in the matter of who they belong to and why they are attached so firmly – we might spend our time more profitably tapping out villanelles or art criticism, might emerge finally from the spiritual caverns that have held us in place for generations simply because they seem like the best options. The air down there is cool and dry and you don’t have to worry so much about the weather or even the sound of electronic musical instruments, a sound that frequently grates painfully on the ear, makes the diminutive bones inside twist on themselves and occasionally feel as if they have split right down the middle.

Charles Freeland lives in Dayton, Ohio. Recent books include Albumen (with Rosaire Appel / https://archive.org/details/Albumen), Eucalyptus (Otoliths), and Variations on a Theme by Spinoza (red ceilings press). His website is The Fossil Record (charlesfreelandpoetry.blogspot.com).
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