Draft 92: Translocation

Rachel Blau DuPlessis

“Well, they are gone.” Nyahh.
“And here must I remain.” Yeahhrr.
So, were they totally right, those friends
Who said “poem”--any thing of that sort, was only
Elegy? And to accept it? Was he, for instance,
Really right, who talked of the center
And how I wanted it? Is this, anyway,
Related? Elegy and center?
What is it to claim title from
Unsolaced sets of human webbings?
What is it to be responsible
Dinward to the situation now of which
Is hereby spoke, perfect clarity—joke—
Made up from our so-called national tongue.
And from its foreignness. In dis-ray location.
Where am I? Here. But I don’t know
It well. What is it to go beyond recto
Though not by turn or flip to verso page
But to a sonic page called vertigo, of
Nasal quaver tilde, glottal swallowed schwa,
Even the rolled, tongued rrrr which I
Could never do but someday hopen to.
See this? Hear or not? Was this a dream or what?
Is arrangement the dream of a center? Is
It derangement? I wanted
No center. Beyond center was
What I want and wanted. Beyond
consolation. “Unlikely smatterings of themes”
Emerged from the warehouse of suspicion.
All they went, but must remain here I.
Meanwhile friends, whom I meet never more once still
Upon flexible heath, can, along the edge of summit
Present. And Now, whenever that might be in these
Untoward, nervous, tense-mixed tides and zones,
My friends continue walking under the sky dip
Still on broadly blightened view de-steepled meed
Yet without centralizing Verb’s or Vista’s
Clearest claims, but simply passing spaces
Through along, in there or thereabouts, through time.
Or seeing her old house, moved off to here by truck.
We found it where it translocated to,
Visible, beloved, and then depart again,
A walk, a ride you’ll never have been sure to take
Or taken, slaked, with comes and leaves and finds.
Which way did they, long time ago a-way?
Who picked whatever path to take, whichever
Way, all stranged? With invisible disappearing,
The last seed crow knocked its straight lines awry
Used dark air to-toward far away from yon
And flew beyond. Seed crow? Now is another.
We passed plastic flowers
On the grave of “Buster.”
This history, the real true story of intricacy
Began-begins when you-thou thought it done
In foreign selves who live aside the known.
Withal no noise is dissonant.
It told of life. That is, Announced.
And therefore trek and trace the other side.
My period eye is filled with blood.
Like veins thickening, like railroad tracks,
Transmogrified Machines of warehouse
Round us—ducts and pipes. Its knotty floor was
Varnished before sweeping, so that every bit
Of dust and slice and scrape and dirt and dreck
Spreads under glassy surface to stare up
at life in All this Vast expanse of Loft.
And shining! Shining with imperfection!
Silvery clots in open spots of knotholes.
So whether the past or the future arrives
First in sequence might half-sometimes
Be debate. The last ditch, the stand in the door,
The thing declared over, finished,
Was beginning something else another.
Constellations of entanglement, loops and ties
We didn’t far away attend
But now and here we recognize.
                               August-November 2008
Notes to Draft 92: Translocation. One of the generators for this poem’s interest in one’s own foreignness of time, place, and language was taking the poem “This Lime Tree Bower, My Prison” by S.T. Coleridge and running the English through Google translation programs into French, then German, then back to English. Some of that language is used (and modified). One line of the poem comes from student Kari Barlow. There is a comment on Michael O’Brien’s “Those Days,”Sleeping and Waking. Some of the language is taken and modified from short reports by Parker Shipton and Nancy Maclean about their projects at the National Humanities Center. The poem is beholden in general to Durham, North Carolina. Donor Drafts along the “line of sixteen.”