From the Transience

Jorie Graham

May I help you. No. In the mirror? No. Look there is still majesty, increase,
sacrifice. Night in the flat pond. Moon in it/on it disposing entirely of mind. No.
Look there is desert where there was grassland there is sun-inundation like a
scrupulous meditation no message just mutter of immensity where it leaks into

partiality. Into you/me. Our boundaries now in the epic see-through, how they elude
wholeness, let in illusion, pastness, whole years in a flash, then minutes that do not
end – that desert – that jungle. No you say, no world, swamp, reeds, grassy shapes,
beginning of endings, no you say staring right back at event – it keeps

turning – no that will not be the shape I am/it is/again/ it just was/ the shape it was
was never the shape it was, sharpness is melding into blur, used to be the sublime,
used to be present tense – seat of the now-dissolved now. There. My self, my one-
self isn’t working for me. No. I flaps its empty sleeves. Habit stares at the four

horsemen from the end’s endlessly festooned terrace. It stares. Bullets whine. I
dreams of being a girl, a man, of wearing hooves, of being just sweat and whinnying,
I smears itself with hope fear disorder opinion, leaves a trail of – what is it of – a
smear of beginning, of circles about to close, the manes are tossing in the

light. No. Do not trust what I see. Do not trust you. Do not trust my own saying of the
not trust. Do not trust world, the no-place into which I place my no, the state of mind
into which I must clamp my mind, these objects which do not exist, no do not, in the
actual, which depart from reality. Swim against current my opacity my soul whirs,

swim hard against the current state of … May I touch the place that is you. No.
Would you have had a place once. Yes. Is there a present tense now. No. What is
there? Touch it. This place where we share this mind. It will be our first and last.
Our first and last what? Our first and last. Did we live among men. Were we mouth-

pieces. Where is the mask that worked so well. The carnival. The puppetmaster who
held my strings – my strings – here was my arm as it reached out a hand to you, to
express love, to rid itself of love – here was my mouth in which breathing forced
awake the unending sounds, of blood, of ink, so each made of himself a net,

a grip upon place. Such as this present I can summon here with you. Here.
Now, remember that. I see you nowhere, I hear you nowhere, we are
on different pages, not a different story, the ancestor the divided cell keeps
asking have you heard the nightingale – no – have not – listening now is

few and far between – mostly it is more opaque – not talk, not thought, but
like it. But you are standing there. So bright, my past. Hello. Dear fission, my self
isn’t working for me. It’s involved with arithmetic. It’s trying to correct itself so that
it fits, to slice itself, dismember, un-remember, cut off, sew on, recall until it can be

counted in, or up, or down. It says some right fit must be found – restored resolved
bought-up doomed-to – it must be worn more artlessly the new thing they will call
the self – we must not make the same mistake again – what was it was mistaken ask
the vigorous winds, bending down gently as if to lift us up, right through our throats

as fish used to be hooked when there were fish – for nothing is more important than
this new face that must shake the whole thing down & laugh & bring up the rear.
What time is it. Are we already in the necroscape. Even as a machine I recall
the dust and ash which everyone assured everyone else was just a small digression.