From Some Elsewhere
In the dream you have of the dead, he says to himself, they come back and you’ve five minutes to spend with them, to ask of your life together, to ask why the heart is sometimes but not always a bitter root. It is night now, he says, and it should be better at this hour because the alleyways narrow and music carries beyond the rooftops but in the same dream the dead sit at picnic tables and eat cold sandwiches and drink wine intended for others.
It is an effort simply to arrive and ask open questions, isn’t it, for anyone, let alone they who have come from deserted places, where memory is an empty ledger, and if we do not hear it is not for a want of listening. So far from silence, where will you place your hands? What one wants is sliced from the throat and placed in a small wooden box alongside a frayed ribbon, playing cards, nails, a shard of blue glass. An awful sea, distant every time, and the name that finds it, elsewhere.
Richard Deming is a poet and a theorist who works on the philosophy of literature. His poems have appeared in such places as Sulfur, Field, Indiana Review, and Mandorla, as well as Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present. He is the author of Let’s Not Call It Consequence (Shearsman), about which Susan Howe has written, “Deming restlessly calculates the split between promised and actual experience. The poems in his impressive new collection balance at an edge of danger syntax can only shadow.” With Nancy Kuhl, he edits Phylum Press (www.phylumpress.com). He is currently a lecturer at Yale University.