. . . . .
Friends and Strangers, working lately to summon my own authenticity, to write from the world when I am that alone--alone enough to find out what intimacy really is when it is a knowing blindness, a knowledge of something beyond this shore of words.
Visiting us kindly from some beautiful half-sleep
What deep light our dark phantoms return
by Paisley Reckdal
Hours after the storm and still I don't know why I'm caught
on my porch before the body of this moth,
big as a plumber's thumb and bullet-shaped,
shoulders covered with fine and surprising fur.
Everything about it, down
to the crossed and modest-seeming legs,
paddle-shaped antennae and the wings
slick as variegated satin
beckons, holds me to it: the eyes
glossy pinheads inside which
thousands of small cells bristle, rimmed with gold,
rimmed mercury and onyx:
a rich multiplicity from which
to no longer see the world.
It is cold and late, I am tired but cannot stop
staring at this shadow growing in my hands,
long as a dog's paw, skin and hair
so articulated as to be rippling in stillness.
The hollowed belly tapers to a bee-sting point
off which only the tiniest gray tuft of hair
bursts, as if the body were incapable of defending itself
through any means other than deception
or pleasure. Which makes
the sudden underwings' tabs of pink
more poignant a discovery,
a shredding of lipstick, silken powdering.
I want to scratch away at it, drag this color
with me, paste its scent onto face and hair
and clothing. I don't know why
I hesitate to bring it into the house,
to prop it on the kitchen table where the light
is better, nudging apart its stiff legs.
I can't stop stroking the wicker hooks growing
out of its face, imagining how a chain
might be threaded through them and the whole thing worn
as a necklace, a charm
for the cats that will soon appear, and then the owls,
more stars and clouds; even for the moon
rolling her stone face up to the black surface.
I'm not afraid of death, Im afraid of all the years
leading up to it. Still, I'll be thinking of this moth
all week, and the weeks after, remembering
how I wanted to kneel before this ancient furred body,
to slip it into my mouth,
savoring the heat of whatever last light
might have killed it.
The moth is frail. It feels like nothing.
And the rain wihdraws its wet cape
slowly from my shoulders as I continue to stand here,
looking and looking at what I won't release,
to watch it shake its ice of walkway dust
and start once more, back to the lamp
on the kitchen porch, to lift again and linger at a source
from which there is no dark.
. . . . .
This is a an imaginary diary of facts, confessions, or messages. This is a notebook of working but broken ideas, lines, images, notes on books I'm reading, writers I admire, and brief fantasies of language. Here unfiltered all mannerings pseudo-private, publicized, ur-. Here I am art and unrevealed: poetic, political and pop. These are my moonlit rough beginnings and should not be taken literally, directly, truthfully, reliably, and none of it is legally binding. These lies are all choreographed, but only haphazardly. Beware.
My work has been awarded the Katherine C. Turner Prize from the Academy of American Poets, a Swarthout Award, and has twice been nominated and shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. My first book, A Book Called Rats, was selected for the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry (Eastern Washington University Press 2007). I'm curating editor for the online journal of poetry: PISTOLA and my poems and reviews most recently appear in Massachusetts Review, Beloit, Ploughshares and RAIN TAXI. I currently teach writing and literature at Santa Monica College in southern California.
FRIENDS AND STRANGERS
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