Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Mary-Kim Arnold




I saw bones on the ground. The bones were picked clean. I wrote it in a poem to you. 


September weather in July. A red truck rounding a curve. 


In a dream you showed me a series of powerpoint slides, describing your expertise. “I’ll help you,” you said then spent the rest of the time we had together bundling branches. The room was filled with branches. The room became a tree. You became the tree. I sat beneath. I sat and lived and died beneath the tree that was once you. 


In the morning, I walked the track again. The track was wet. The geese were out. 


A man in a brown cap, circling. 


The poets threw a party at the shore. They danced around, pairing off. They swam in the ocean. They took photographs of themselves dancing and swimming. Someone I once loved read a love poem to someone else. I imagined him on fire. 


The track is littered with last night’s spent fireworks. Candy wrappers and cardboard, damp with disappointment. 


By the time you read this, I will have forgotten more. 


In a dream I am building a low stone wall. No matter how many stones I drag and lift, the wall never gets any higher. 


I do not know what comes next. 


I go to the class. In the class we fold paper. From paper, we fashion the most fragile boats. When you knew me I was a boat made of paper. When you loved me I was such a tender boat. 


In a dream you are an orchard. I catch apples as they fall from your open mouth. You are the tree and I am the basket. 


You are the wind. I am the bark sheared from branches. 


At the end of that movie we saw on that last night, he fastens himself beneath a truck so that when the truck is driven, he will be dragged along the pavement. We see the truck speeding down the highway. We see the darkness it leaves behind. How long will it drive. 




threatens to erase me. Erode, eradicate, eviscerate. 


To wake in panic?

The medium is the message is the microcosm is the millennium. 

This part doesn’t frighten me much. 


I enter a room. It darkens. No causation but Caucasian. The influence of my anxiety. 


A pale curtain hung across the threshold. 


Writing keeps the window open. Not the act itself, but the orientation toward the act. 


The leaning toward and to. The act tethered to thought.


Never the finest hour, but the hour that comes next. 


Where to put it all? 

Capaciousness is one way to pass the time. 


I have an hour, an idea, another language. And all of history, like bathwater cooling. Its metallic chill. 


In the grandest sense, what is it? 

Not the disaster itself, but the disastrous decomposing of a day. 

The wishing toward, the momentum – no, not the right word

compulsion – no, ambition – no, no, no


Can I summon my own tragedy by thinking it hard enough? Conjure? Conjugate? Congregate? 


The mind being what it is. The mind, the moon, the memory. 

Mary-Kim Arnold is the author of Litany for the Long Moment (Essay Press, 2018) and The Fish & The Dove (Noemi Press, 2020). She teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown University.