by Siobhán Scarry
How do the thoughts move? With whirring, with wings, with unthinkable thoughts. Are you sleeping? After the year of instant replay, you get to keep the insomnia without the terror. What replaces it? The no-no-no, the blank canvas, a shushing sound of mental static. Are you writing? I am trying to negotiate my responsibilities to everyone. I’ll take that as a no. The cicadas against the windscreen, the owl in the backyard sounding the depths of the trees. I am taking it in. You are taking notes? I am listening for what the space of the poem can hold. Space of the poem, what can you hold? Any answers? I am made of words, but I wear a million sheets of silence. I once watched myself stretch the tape across my own mouth, as if it were my job to fix it there. You seem surprised by yourself. Trauma short-circuits the mind, launches ships of terrible logic. Is this why, in one of your poems, you write you “can no longer ... caper in language without inner recoil”? To feel free in language seems a luxury. I’m not sure it’s relevant at this time. What is? Food, laughter, caring for my child, embodied social engagement, a reading list of second-wave feminism I thought I was “beyond.” So experimentation is a luxury? It’s the fractured package language arrives in. But I cannot open the gift or venture toward its logic on the page. Give me the plain-spoken sentence. Because you believe it is solid ground? Its fiction still gives me the balloon’s string. And I must travel feeling the grasp of my own hand. Why? I can count on myself to keep good hold. Do you no longer trust the reader? I may have imagined the reader as a field of kindred someones, or at least someones I could trust. When you lock the door, and the danger is inside, trust itself flies up and away. Are you willing to speak of the event? I am trying to negotiate my responsibilities to everyone. This sounds coached. Catharsis may not be worth the collateral. Yet silence cuts the ethical line that has led me to be a writer of poems. A delicate question: can you continue writing under these conditions? Not very well. So you are trying to not speak of the event and find your way out of silence? Exactly. How is that going? Fits and starts. Mostly fits. Do you have any models for this mode? No one I respect. What are you writing now? Work emails. Grocery lists. An essay exploring why feminism is necessary but futile for a body in trauma. Any poems? Is this a poem?