Études from a Spring Thaw

I. Winter and Sensibility

Room warmth, and a very cold kind of day. Winter is never what one imagines—seemingly for the better… Bursting in, more and more life, more and more joy, hope, expectation: everything an anticipation of great dynamism, great happiness in oneself; fruit and light, airiness and delicacy. The fragrant coffee on the kitchen cart, dividing mind’s darkness and her dreams. Morning light shining through the blinds. The dust on the blinds almost burning away in the brightness—the repeating, the repeating of the morning light.

Gravitating along lines of latitude, one feels in the middle, midst and center of something like ‘creation.’ Mossy engravings at the forty-fifth parallel—recesses and shadows run through the treeline and flush black in the thoroughness of a night’s ink. (I am like a body at the bottom of the river. A human, I am the body of a man, and everyone around me swims and fights and scatters like little fish. But I hear the singing above the water, up in the air and the sunshine.)

A neighbor seems to be clearing snow from the sidewalk in front of a house that he must think is empty of people, but which is not. A few lights on upstairs. A column of shade goes back and forth.

In the house of one’s family, only the most sober prose is possible, a prose of steady gladness and confinement, one succeeding the other like the black tic-marks delimiting the unit for second around the static but continuous circumference of a wall clock. The prose of the family home. A pillow. Sleep. Repose. Non-lethal enjoyment in suffocation. And this is the basement of the soul. Here there is a piano. Half of its keys are detuned by long neglect, or make no sound at all. Decades-old linoleum cools the soles of one’s feet. You feel like a sleepwalker awakened in the middle of a trespass. A string hangs from a lightbulb in the ceiling, making one feel quite near the ground (the ground above). The first floor is almost unimaginable, like the first sphere where Virgil is not permitted to lead.

False warmth of a bedside lamp. A stuttering zoetrope. The words do not come, everything—but there are no people—everything abides in a kind of embarrassment, refraining from speech.

Far above the earth in closed blinds, lightning set within beams, everything above, the snaking clouds hold us aloft. The room I sleep in is such that, in decades of another’s searching, I would never be found (the feeling of footsteps in the hallway that do not imagine they are heard).

New grass, rich with death, an image crawling over our towns, our unreadable people. The old world will come to haunt the new. A wind blows like a dedication. Bad tidings. (“Son of morning, into what times and what lands art thou fallen!”)

Bracken, bramble, kindling. The trees were all on fire with snow and wind—L’Inverno. A standalone garage painted fir-green, wooden fences sinking in white, courting nighttime deer, woodland riff-raff—a pile of logs under a blue tarp, curtained with icicles.

Night breathed with warm, somehow falsely day-lit air—or; a blue algae of the lungs.

Today it seems as if the shadows have gone. Everything wades only in a greater or lesser light.

II. Poetological Fragments

Hölderlin’s poetological Faculties of Human Nature, namely Feeling, Passion and Imagination, perfectly mirror the three kinds of judgement: Subjective, Objective and Aesthetic. What is of interest here is Passion as Objective.

The aphorism is not fiction, non-fiction, poetry, narrative, reportage—none of these define the aphorism. The concept of the aphorism is, rather, a negative one. The closing of the horizon around any given piece of unbroken writing; a delimitation on all sides; a defense and love for the severely linear; the aphorism is the terrain of pure writing, the technique of the writer that Bernhard calls the story destroyer.

One would like to write the way that others paint—now, the same motif over and over again until it has been mastered, and then, all at once, a big scene in which many forces are at play. But when one is only painting flowers again and again, their petals, their stems, leaves, spots, their varying states of health and sickliness (and all painted flowers, if they are the main subject, are a little sickly) one has really been painting those great tangles of force the whole time, without knowing, in their latency, striving to blossom.

The soaring bird takes a closed window for an invitation.

That we seem to carry within us, after sleeping dreamlessly, a blacked-out crystal ball in which nothing can be seen: we would like to smash it in order to look inside—but then the very inside itself would be gone and we would only have shards of dark glass in which not even a reflection would survive.

Poetological motif. The feeling of losing something we never had. When we receive these flashes, it is as if we were seeing the face, only now perfected in the final aspect of death, of a love we have lost.

When one relies too heavily on the first person in, say, poetry, something unexpected happens and the subject, in this case, the poet, dissolves (I also have to be the I). Poetry as Objective, in the Idealistic sense—so that the reader can feel her own subjectivity.

The play and curve of music in a word. The boundings of poetry through the open field, shot like a hunted deer. The soil fed by verses decomposed… Prose crossing the street like a scalpel. She steps, feeling the cracks of the road through papery shoes, with an intellectual, blue-green pleasure (…the blue-green of the end of the 19th Century, the time of the assassins, perfected, not by Monet or Van Gogh, but by Elstir via the delicate hand of Proust).

III. Spring; Sickness

The love (it almost seems like this is not the word… I want there to be something more, for there is an infinite sense of loss, an annihilation in the breast that turns the man’s worn hands into a baby’s grasping fingers—palms damp with the tears of fraught sleep [one’s verse can only ever be to you]). I am a man with a mind warmly glowing with love. I myself have been dreamt, a shard of light cast from the greater body of that dream, the nebulae, like the Pillars of Creation, those lengths of light and of a great, undetermined loving. Sometimes it is all there is… I hear the soughing sea of pines in the cold dark outside and wonder about the world and its wind that it holds like an impossible breath—a destroying fire. How could this be love?

There is a charge of excitement, not taken in one thing or another, but flowing and lateral like a strange, blood-filled crustacean.

Fractures in thick sidewalks, smiles in windows, broken glass choking rose bushes, a lamp vomiting thin fire upon stones. Stones of grass, stones brought up at the mortar, mortar for the flowers, flowers violet, white, grey, orange. Everything is violet and orange and when it rains the colors of the world, its cool and warm duo-tones, run like the makeup of a crying face. I am inside of a face. The topography of lips, a cavernous pursing and smirk, killing cheeks, hills, shadows of a strong nose over valleys, a mountain peak in the mist, freckles like a field of shy strawberries.

Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major. A music full of certainty, flitting birds, silver ponds and rivers, impasto strokes of power under sharp gazes, burning up in the sky. I am awakened by this music, this morning, like so many other mornings in the past of my life. In a transference of sound to sight, it makes itself known. That same blue-green shining out of my eyes, as in those old theories of sight which considered the faculty of sight as something active issuing forth from our eyes, rather than as a passive phenomenon that consumed light, to be translated within the original darkness of the subject. I hear the music and I see and I keep my eyelids closed. They are two leaves lightly covering marbles in the grass… I can remember the first time my closed eyes were ever kissed—it seemed to reach inside me, that small kiss, like a ray of light directed by mirrors into the deepest chamber of a great pyramid… Holding her hot cup of coffee, standing in the open door, exposed to the cool, damp air, she lets the dog out. He runs to the bushes in the shade near the flower beds by the toolshed, disturbing the leaves that cover the two blue marbles. The leaves shift, exposing the watery pieces of glass. They are dirty with the soil of night. Dew collects on their irregular hemispheres and an earthworm crawls under one in order to hide from the rising sun. But there is crackling and a few pops and the marbles seem to soften, the light issuing forth from them so magically seems to meet a resistance. The beams of imagination are stopped by the shine of reality. For a moment they intertwine in a graceless dance, these two forms of light, in a cordial fight through which no harm comes to either combatant. The beams give way to the shining. The music continues. It is coming somehow from without, from outside my own will—something that is hard to understand… no, it is rather quite easy to understand, and all of a sudden the opposite notion surprises me, as I watch blue and flecks of gold inflame the partially closed blinds—how was it that I could ever have believed something like the music of Mozart to have originated within me?

The old dog… Hiding in the bushes, those shadows deepen into something like a well, into which a wooden bucket is lowered. A splash is heard down underground. Then it is brought up with great difficulty, whether full of blood or water, nobody can tell by looking.

As time went on, it seemed more and more as if we had already died, as if death were a boring reality already far behind us. Life, so glowing with tumult, had fashioned itself around us like one of the earlier circles of hell, where there is still much room for reverie, speculation and the quieter affects—even for laughter and love. If laughter was the air we breathed, love was the luminiferous ether in which our power of sight swam. All mornings began in love and the nights terminated in the holy darkness of laughter, and when these two powers interpenetrated and commingled, the resulting chemism acted like a stimulating laudanum coursing through the air around those present. Laughter: dark butterflies in the dewing garden of morning. Love: strange glow of streetlights, dreams, shy stars opening the night with their music. “If this were really death—” We looked at each other and wondered.

Forcing myself to drink a dazzling glass of water like slowly pushing a pin through the thick of my palm. Fever. In blank thoughts I rehearse movements as though for a salacious dance. A grove of women as tall as trees stand around me in varying attitudes. One seems to think I am a scheming patient, laid up in the white light of his sickness. Another thinks I am only a boy without a thought in my heart but the silliest laughter. But this one—she stoops, her hair pours down around me like a weeping willow of auburn, and looks me in the face, and looks and looks. I open up to her looking, I kiss the air around her, I breathe and lie down, giving myself over to her long dreams…

Zane Rougier Perdue lives and works in Philadelphia, PA., and is originally from Albuquerque, NM. His work can be found with The Decadent Review, The Hong Kong Review, The Dillydoun Review and elsewhere.