For Césaire

Response by Erica Hunt

[Prompt: Present-day poetic imagination]


For Cesaire


that you might fall into a text, by travelling through solids or walking through one end of a paragraph and exiting through another.


as one does in a dream or on stand by in a queue that stretches around the corner, architectural dossier of all the rooms one has ever slept in, a rectangle, a rhomboid, an amniotic sac, indefinite locations,  shallow closets and unnamed despair, no  right angles or shelves on which to tame the trampoline mind of the night from one extreme to the other.


or that you might stand on the brink and see a reflecting pool, a myth recited then written in the open ended curve of your own myth floating there, letters spread out on the waters of the Caribbean, as stars in the open sky paint the sea with old light.


or that one might stand in front of a painting, not your own,  not a portrait but a suggestion for entombing, bruising, reversing, enlarging, dreaming, falling under an unmarked stone, but instead, you pick out the pieces of glass, not quite drawing blood.


or that you might choose to close your eyes, to deafen oneself with blindness, and never more stand out, or be noticeable choosing to grid oneself into paper constellations, the various hoaxes of saliva cementing heraldic ancestries, making a dot com boom of falling and spiraling DNA, dancing merrily, like pinwheels in history books of flattened royalty.


which may be why the rule book you’ve divined doesn’t need to go into specifics, you know precisely how it goes because it possesses you, predicting all the ways you shrink; everyone else seems to know the fine contours of discomfort each symptom suggests and the garments that will make it attractive to the eye—the states of mind too dumb, too hard, too smart, too pretty, too slow, too expressive, too observant to all the ways intensity threatens survival.


how it is to be angry and yet to laugh, to move forward and yet be tethered and recumbent , to love and yet feel water invade the lungs as if foreseeing the drowning from a long way off—the ridges rise and fall denoting dry land, the night cough’s random start and silence turns into worry that the volcano will speak, leave the door open and unguarded, the night running.




☞ See the counter-response by Brent Hayes Edwards and/or leave your own response below!


2 thoughts on “For Césaire

  • “to fall into a text … as one does in a dream”

    Wow. Perfect.

    • I was arrested and perhaps a little haunted by those very same lines. Somehow they make plain what’s evoked mimetically throughout the poem – that uncanny combination of thrill and anxiety that is the dreamstate. Every image here is an invitation to consider alternate realities, alternate possibilities for processing one’s experience of the world without distinguishing between the epic and the banal. And this was, for me, very much Césaire’s offering – his invitation to live in thrilling anxiety – the sustained tension underlying the whole of his poetics.

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