The issuer of names is preoccupied with the next task.
Someone has to talk and someone
has to be talked to. Stories,
unlike names, are not inert. Everyone
wants for a story to take them
somewhere else. The idea of being transported,
of having the emotions reassigned, does not belong
to a house. The house is a confine.
Stories take up their first and second and third person.
In this case, resist the first — I wanted song.
A song is wild. Intrinsic to its nature
is the very principle of motion. But a house
is safe. It sinks roots, the color of which
pale with each sedentary hour.
The rule is
repeat after me. I say
say my name, say my name.
Only the self is knowable. Perhaps
that’s true. Reality
is the self and what it encounters,
an endless string of the first person.
I cannot know you.
You cannot love me. (Say your name. Say your name.) We are
a fetish, identifying and crying out
with little regard for what is at the end of the string.
Wasn’t it endless? Everything has an end, and is then
forgotten. Perhaps nothing is knowable.
A name is a prison.
Dark Eyed Junco
To the impatient onlooker
we are a series of the same figure:
it, it, it, it.
If there is protection in sameness, there is
also mystery. Where will
that one it be
at any one time. It is already
dissolving out of the picture
to become interchangeable with its own
idea. But a living thing is not an idea.
It too is lonely for a face. A face
writes its trouble onto itself. (The plural is
stories collected out of separation.)
If we commune, it is to save ourselves.
Emphasis will always remain
on the negative — the one problem
solved incorrectly. The converse, meaning
the good thing, is somehow expected.
We are the small, temporary good thing — our arrival
is unexpected. It shivers now
into focus. Be still. Consider
the sensation of wonder — is it only
a symptom of goodness? Perhaps good
is not a thing. Planned or unplanned, ultimately
it forms an act. But objects and their results
supersede action. This is why (something
lost is valuable) we must leave
before the eye can train its vision.
Laton Carter‘s Leaving (University of Chicago Press) was selected by Mark Doty for the Oregon Book Award. Recent work appears or is forthcoming from Iron Horse Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, phoebe, and Shift: A Journal of Literary Oddities. Carter’s poem The Starling was selected by Dan Beachy-Quick as the winner of the 2017 Winter Anthology Contest.