The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2022

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JUNE 2022 Issue
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Footsteps with a hiss attached, dis dis dis, dragging a mutant shadow from which the object has gone.

A pierced envelope, a membrane, has allowed the figure to escape, as a noun from a sentence, a button from a jacket, a person from life.

They spoke about the disappeared, I recall this; a fleet of awful bodies under moving tarps, a desert, a prairie, some hole in the gutter, some sewer, some truck running over hard gravel making the sound of teeth on metal skin.

Nothing is going to get me closer because I don’t trust you to be on the other side.

The other side of the mandate to get through or across to the other side, as if in the bright air of evening I could sit and disclose the very amplitude and extent of the lost and found in a flirtatious swell of stories, as if these might deliver the precision for which you have asked but which you have in no way earned.

No, I am not going to abandon the mute, as abhorrent and aberrant as it is, its intact pretense smiling back at you.

If only I could sing.

If I could sing then my body would escape into the pool of notes which might then arrange themselves as a soul, it has been done, I have heard these transformations as I know you have, when whatever we imagine has been seen has then been forfeited, excluded, thrown, its bloods released into poppies and sunsets, so that pathos, the tears of Mary, the tears of a girl, these are strewn into the receptive air, without echo or retrieval, no ghost, no dream recalled; a chord from which the singer can drag a lament, nothing to do with melody, nothing to do with pleasure.

This is why I listen to the cello suites over and over, as they seem to exist above the breach and to travel alongside, as fluid companions to the dissonant assembly below.

If you are awaiting the figure, it will not emerge.

The image is bare which is why I must forsake it, to protect it from the cruelty of the emulating shadow with its arrogant intimacy, its false embrace in the flare of lit space: candles, dawn, that slit of moon.

Dangerous and sly, unable to form the slightest attachment, the merest touch with its object, it caresses the night with an affinity so entire it cannot be discerned.

You see, don’t you, how the appearance of a thing is a form of betrayal.


Ann Lauterbach

Ann Lauterbach’s eleventh collection of poems, Door, will be published in spring 2023. A recipient of Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, she teaches at Bard College.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2022

All Issues