By Chance the Cycladic People

Anne Carson

9.4. They put stones in their eye sockets. Upper-class people put precious stones.

16.2. Prior to the movement and following the movement, stillness.

8.0. Not sleeping made the Cycladic people gradually more and more brittle. Their legs broke off.

1.0. The Cycladic was a neolithic culture based on emmer wheat, wild barley, sheep, pigs and tuna speared from small boats.

11.4. Left hand on Tuesdays, right hand on Wednesdays.

10.1. She plied the ferryboat back and forth, island to island, navigating by means of her inner eye.

9.0. When their faces wore smooth they painted them back on with azurite and iron ore.

12.1. All this expertise just disappears when a people die out.

2.0. They wore their faces smooth with trying to sleep, they ground their lips and nipples off in the distress of pillows.

4.4. How you spear it, how you sheer it, how you flense it, how you grind it, how you get it to look so strangely relaxed.

4.0. Mirrors led the Cycladic people to think about the soul and to wish to quiet it.

1.1. The boats had up to fifty oars and small attachments at the bow for lamps. Tuna was fished at night.

16.0. As far as the experience of stirring is concerned, small stillness produces small stirring and great stillness great stirring.

3.3. A final theory is that you could fill the pan with water and use it as a mirror.

2.1. It was no use. They’d lost the knack. Sleep was a stranger.

14.1. There it was plunging up and down in its shallow holes.

6.1. The handbag, that artefact which freed human beings from having to eat food wherever they found it.

3.0. While staying up at night the Cycladic people invented the frying pan.

11.0. Three times a day she put the boat on autopilot and went down below to the cool silent pantry.

7.1. Abstention from grain is helpful.

9.3. Their eyes fell out.

11.3. The food was tastier that way.

11.5. This may sound to you like a mere boyish stunt.

11.1. The pantry, what a relief after the splash and glare of the helm.

4.1. To uncontrive.

6.0. To the Cycladic people is ascribed the invention of the handbag,

3.1. Quite a number of frying pans have been found by archaeologists. The frying pans are small. No one was very hungry at night.

9.1. Did I mention the marble pillows, I think I did.

2.3. This became a Cycladic proverb.

5.2. Proust liked a good jolt.

7.2. Abstention from grain is the same for men and women. You put your lungs in an extraordinary state of clear coolness.

13.0. One night there was a snowfall, solitary, absurd.

6.3. And after dinner, harps.

1.2. The Cycladic was an entirely insomniac culture.

2.2. Well, they said, these are the pies we have. It was a proverb.

4.2. My point of view is admittedly faulty. My nose is always breathing. I am worn out with breathing. I suspect you have days when you choose not to breathe at all.

14.0. That was the night she looked to her soul.

3.2. Or they may have been prestige frying pans.

9.2. They painted wonderful widow’s peaks on themselves or extra breasts.

5.1. Possibly because of his blanket refusal to listen to another person’s dreams at the breakfast table, for Proust dismissed this type of recollection as ‘mere anamnesia’.

16.1. There it lay, the foredeck in the moonlight, more silver than the sea.

9.5. Perhaps now they were glad after all that they did not sleep.

5.3. That moment when everyone sees exactly what is on the end of their fork, as William S. Burroughs said of celebrity.

15.1. See me leaving you better hang your head and cry, she liked songs like that. Honkytonk influence.

16.3. All of her leapt before her eyes.

8.1. They worried about this and kept their arms close to the body, clasping the torso right arm below left, like a cummerbund.

11.6. She thought it a good idea to silence mental conversation.

12.0. Clouds every one of them smell different, so do ocean currents. So do rocky reefs.

10.2. Her inner eye grew sharp enough to slaughter goats.

15.0. She’d been a pretty good harpist before the die-off.

6.2. So began the dinner parties.

10.0. Eventually the Cycladic people died out all except one, a ferryboat captain.

8.2. Left arm below right was considered uncouth.

7.0. To play a stringless harp requires only the thumbs.

5.0. The Cycladic people were very fond of Proust.

4.3. Is it because you don’t want the impact.

11.2. In the pantry she sat at the counter and ate with her hands.

16.0. As far as the experience of stirring is concerned, small stillness produces small stirring and great stillness great stirring.


This poem was composed using the random integer generator.