The Visible World Poem by Jorie Graham

The Visible World

I dig my hands into the absolute. The surface
into shingled, grassed clusters; lifts.
If I press, pick-in with fingers, pluck,
I can unfold the loam. It is tender. It is a tender
maneuver, hands making and unmaking promises.
Diggers, forgetters. . . . A series of successive single instances . . .
Frames of reference moving . . .
The speed of light, down here, upthrown, in my hands:
bacteria, milky roots, pilgrimages of spores, deranged
and rippling
mosses. What heat is this in me
that would thaw time, making bits of instance
shovel by shovelful—my present a wind blowing through
this culture
slogged and clutched-firm with decisions, overridings,
taken? . . . If I look carefully, there in my hand, if I
break it apart without
crumbling: husks, mossy beginnings and endings, ruffled
airy loambits,
and the greasy silks of clay crushing the pinerot
in . . .
Erasure. Tell me something and then take it back.
Bring this pellucid moment—here on this page now
as on this patch
of soil, my property—bring it up to the top and out
sequence. Make it dumb again—won't you?—what
would it
take? Leach the humidities out, the things that will
insist on
making meaning. Parch it. It isn't hard: just take this
and spread it out, deranged, a vertigo of single
in full sun and you can, easy, decivilize it, un-
hinge it
from its plot. Upthrown like this, I think you can
abstract it. Do you wish to?
Disentangled, it grows very very clear.
Even the mud, the sticky lemon-colored clay
hardens and then yields, crumbs.
I can't say what it is then, but the golden-headed
mating, forgetting, speckling, inter-
will begin to be gone from it and then its glamorous
veil of
echoes and muddy nostalgias will
be gone. If I touch the slender new rootings they show me
how large I
am, look at these fingers—what a pilot—I touch, I press
their slowest
electricity. . . . What speed is it at?
What speed am I at here, on my knees, as the sun traverses now
and just begins
to touch my back. What speed where my fingers, under the
dark oaks,
are suddenly touched, lit up—so white as they move, the ray for
a moment
on them alone in the small wood.
White hands in the black-green glade,
opening the muddy cartoon of the present, taking the tiny roots
of the moss
apart, hired hands, curiosity's small army, so white
in these greens—
make your revolution in the invisible temple,
make your temple in the invisible
revolution—I can't see the errands you run, hands gleaming
for this instant longer
like tinfoil at the bottom here of the tall
whispering oaks . . .
Listen, Boccioni the futurist says a galloping horse
has not four
legs (it has twenty)—and "at C there is no sequence
because there is no time"—and since
at lightspeed, etc. (everything is simultaneous): my hands
serrated with desires, shoved into these excavated
—mauve, maroons, gutters of flecking golds—
my hands are living in myriad manifestations
of light. . . .
"All forms of imitation are to be despised."
"All subjects previously used must be discarded."
"At last we shall rush rapidly past objectiveness" . . .
Oh enslavement, will you take these hands
and hold them in
for a time longer? Tops of the oaks, do you see my tiny
golden hands
pushed, up to the wrists,
into the present? Star I can't see in daylight, young, light
and airy star—
I put the seed in. The beam moves on.

Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham

New York City, New York
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