I am blind and I live in Minnesota, which may help explain the context of “The World Unseen.” I’ve been fascinated by the idea that believing in salvation is like believing in Constantinople ever since I first read Sir Thomas Browne’s Urn Burial (a treatise that was, I believe, hailed by critics as the feel-good hit of the 17th Century). “Ghostweight” was inspired by YoonHa Lee’s wonderfully bizarre story of the same name, which you can read here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/lee_01_11/
The World Unseen
Sir Thomas Browne believed in his own salvation
as he believed in Constantinople,
where he had never been. Today,
my street is a Constantinople
As though I’d failed to pay my bill,
the snow has shut off all connections.
Gone is the shape the world offers me—
the hiss of distant, rustle of nearby
leaves, the hammer’s crack
rebounding off successive roofs, lilac
scent that swells and then tapers away.
Instead I have silence, cold,
the muffled uninformative
probing of my cane, and now
the scrape scrape, of a snow-shovel.
Hello, I say.
Nothing. The lift and toss,
the powder’s diffuse arc, must be inferred;
Excuse me, I call.
if the shoveler does not exist, it will
be necessary to invent him.
This must be how the dead persist,
bundled in their shrouds
of static, grasping at fragments,
trying to get the attention of a stranger.
[First published in Leveler Poetry on 28 December 2015.]
Love’s Not Time’s Fool
Oh no! It is Time’s tax attorney, whose clients are shocked to learn all those brief hours were billable.
Love is Time’s pet groomer feeding you treats and cutting your claws until you bleed,
Time’s evil ex-boyfriend who can’t understand that she’s moved on and there’s a reason he doesn’t have her new cell number.
Time is Love’s babysitter, the one who lets you watch the sexy channels until Mom and Dad get home and you find out they knew all along exactly how much gin was in that bottle,
is Love’s traffic cop—he pulls you over when the lights have changed from clarinet to chainsaw, and you expect a ticket but he hauls you in and you spend the night in a cell that smells like a Motorhead song.
Love is Time’s bra that lifts and separates, Time’s girdle that keeps a full-figured dimension in line with no unsightly relativistic bulges,
Time’s patient gardener, who stands with the others in the Home Depot parking lot, waiting for the man in the white pickup, while dawn breaks over the citrus-colored lights of the Sonic across the street.
It is not true that the dead cannot be folded.
-Yoon Ha Lee
Now I am become frozen concentrate,
legacy code, a thirsty archive
waiting to unfurl its petals.
Now I am tactical origami,
a love-letter only the lover can defuse.
Now my people bear the ghostweight,
an odd old phrase, the crook
of a gesturing hand, a fractal
coil of synapses, the echo,
that is become of me.
© 2017 Roy White
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