ISSUE  1   2   3   4   SUBMIT

from audition

Mytili Jagannathan

from audition


through love we depart from our senses in order to appear.  this body intervenes with that one, a cloak of commas around unfolding steam.  though kisses are informants, we are like colleagues, sealing each other’s lips.  the common parlance of the day makes me call you baby.  tonight, I consider the impending journey through the woods as part of the history of such journeys in fairy tales.  because of what’s behind, there is no way not to go on.  I put you in my basket with blue linen, matches, and the word, community.


* * *


lately I am transfixed by strange pairings—the snake in Japan who refused to eat the hamster given to him by zookeepers as a snack.  "I have never seen anything like it," a zookeeper at the Mutsugoro Okoku zoo told the Associated Press News agency.  or the lioness at the Sambaru Game Reserve in Kenya who adopted the baby oryx, a small antelope normally her natural prey, and protected it from other predators.  one day, a male lion attacked and killed the oryx while the lioness was asleep.  an eyewitness reported that the lioness circled the lion 10 times, roaring in grief and anger.


"This is either an extraordinary case of maternal instinct or simply the eighth wonder of the world," local Herman Mwasaghu told The Nation newspaper.   finally, there was the case, also in Kenya, of the one-year old baby hippo rescued from a flood befriending a 100-year-old male tortoise, who, the BBC article pointed out, was “of a similar color.” “The hippo follows the tortoise around and licks its face,” said a wildlife sanctuary worker.


because the inevitability of human violence is often inferred from the animal world, these aberrations of cross-species kindness are flashes of great hope.  in all three accounts, the unlikely pairs—hamster and snake, lion and oryx, hippo and tortoise--curled up together to sleep.  why am I telling you this story?. am I a keen reader of events to come, or a crypto-hippie stuck in scientific traffic? 


* * *


Raymond Williams, in Keywords, on the difficulty of the word “community” in the history of its English usage:  “Community can be the warmly persuasive word to describe an existing set of relationships, or the warmly persuasive word to describe an alternative set of relationships.”  a girl places her ear to the whirr of a dark window.  community inscribes a circle, says here.  says we are near each other, physically, or experientially, or imaginatively, or by what we are talking about.  says I am part of what enfolds you.  says to be part of me, here is how to rule your body.  says it exists,  intrinsic, and must be defended.  says it doesn’t exist, and must be invented.  kiss by kiss.  a quandary.   a quickening constellation of theres.


says because of ______, we are no longer___________.  says we are no longer, so we must be. 


* * *


night after night, you are murdered.


there are hands administering hunger and heartbreak.


in reality, we could “come into” power, but power itself


is waiting to overcome us.


suppose dancing raises the roof and so promotes the violet sky.


a mother from the twentieth century resigns from her time,


and meets her estranged daughter in the twenty-first. 


a child sutures you to a future you can’t occupy. 


            the child is a metaphor, but also a magician who, with luck, will outlast you. 


* * *


put everything you have into this audition.


for all our babies’ sakes.  and for our own: since we are grown, and we still call each other, baby.