My, What A Pretty Qua You’re Wearing
Reimagining Heidegger (The Thing), Bishop, and Gibran in the Digital Age
Sophie Gimbel, have you been watching?
All these years as all distances in time and space are shrinking.
The art of losing is stuck in my head. I’d always renounced
the desire for material things but this is different. These things are vessels.
What is happening here
When everything is equally far
and equally near?
When the books are barred
in a flash behind screens,
then boxed and sent off to a storage space in New Jersey.
Like genies in padlocked bottles forever condemned to be simulacra of themselves.
Dear Sophie, are you turning in your grave? Because I am
Buried alive in the apathy of modernity
Our souls are malnourished and
Haunted by One Art. Losing cities, losing loves, losing books.
Are you seeing this Sophie?
Do they have you downstairs for the moment, showing off your precious dresses
So as to shield your eyes while your precious books get shipped off into oblivion?
Dear Sophie, I can’t watch, could you? Did it feel as if your eyelashes had been taped
Open, the tableau of you in this library of your namesake,
Your gaze fixed towards the stacks over the years?
Did your corneas gather dust as did the pages of forgotten arts?
Sophie, are you turning in your grave?
The air must be richer under the
Ground where tree roots tickle your composting palms,
Where you are one with the worlding world, the earthing earth.
I don’t even know if you were buried or cremated or mysteriously disappeared.
I only know that Death is the Shrine of Nothing.
I don’t even know if the books exiled to the storage space in New Jersey
Know light or music or remember themselves
The thingness of the thing remains concealed, forgotten.
The nature of the thing never comes to light,
It never gets a hearing.
Perhaps there is that one nostalgic worker among the annihilated things as things
Who fingers each yesteryear-fashioned bound spine and pulls
A volume here and there, blows off the dust, kissing the pages gently
with his fingers as he turns the wilted pages of lost
art as I do at the library.
I am no longer welcome in that dissipating haven.
And these days neither are the books.
Now there is your true definition of Ironic.
And I am as banned as books,
and as burning.
We are the be-thinged, the conditioned ones.
We have left behind us the presumption of all unconditionedness.
I watched the shelves become emaciated and hollow
as the spaces between my pelvic and my collar bones.
Pulled those muscles myself with mine,
Made spaces where the vessels had been,
Books the beauty of which less and less care to behold.
The emptiness, the void, is what does the vessel’s holding.
The empty space, this nothing of the jug, is what the jug is as
the holding vessel. The jig is up. What in the thing is thingly?
What is the thing in itself?
Made spaces where the vessels had been,
Joints in my body which less and less tissue cares to uphold.
Despite all conquest of distances the nearness of things remains absent.
We are ailing allies, being forgotten and forgetting ourselves.
We are lost and losing.
There is no way that leads to the thingness of the thing.
We are not sure what we had in the first place.
What is this helpless anxiety still waiting for, if the terrible has already happened?
As we are perversely immortalized into a digital rebirth we did not pray for…
(I pray to the Shrine of Nothingness)
(Only what conjoins itself out of world becomes a thing)
Sophie, are you hearing this?
Oh God, oh God, rewind the generation,
Give me the digital caress that comes from prints on print,
Even the scratch, I’ll take it, Fingers
I want fingers; you cannot touch or be touched in the pixelated flashing box
You cannot smell these volumes steeping in time, oh, wise
I am a beckoning messenger,
Powerless to bring about the advent of the thing as thing
Inconspicuously compliant is the thing
Something comes to pass and becomes due
Sophie, even losing you though cautious and abstemious
or in their eyes obscenely pious
When they took you from your post, borrowed your tableau,
and your gaze with it,
Borrowed you from themselves,
saying, “She belongs to us,” and I no way of knowing
Because I couldn’t ask you,
Could no more verify your agency than anyone had bothered to inquire of mine as
a child: a thing owned, given without a moment’s hesitance back to my blood to choke on.
For surely that which claims to own a thing through birth or blood or paper or inheritance
must be its rightful proprietor and protector, no questions asked.
And so, I, child, bled,
having lost my thingness
never a right to my ontological own anyway.
And so, I, child, bled
not knowing if I had betrayed you
the very nature of that which is present, remains buried
because I couldn’t ask you,
could not trade void for voice.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
Maybe, Sophie, you do not feel that way at all.
But I do. And the children do. And the books do.
I know. They bleed.
And I bleed tears for them in public and the public deems me insane.
Not because of what I cry but how. I could win if I knew how to argue,
If I had an upper hand.
But I am not in this to win, I’ve no sheathe for the fight,
and I do not believe in an upper hand.
I am but a beckoning messenger.
I am in this because I mourn a disappearance.
I am in this because I love something: an open book;
Love is of such a nature that it changes man into the things he loves.
Trapped in the shelves and the ghosts of vessels
that they had been the vessels of.
I am making a case in a court of void.
An appropriated matter at hand.
What would a jug be that did not stand?
At least a jug manqué hence a jug still –
namely, one that would indeed hold but that,
constantly falling over,
would empty itself of what it holds.
Only a vessel, however, can empty itself.
And so we bleed. But not for long.
Soon we shall be dry and brittle,
a memory of a memory
in the blue depth of the ether.