Poetry from NER 43.1 (2022)
I learn the Spaniards take their time,
if not for health, maybe for the cascade
of Pedrell down the narrow eaves of this
near-dawn Catalonian boulevard
where I am lost. I stop to stare at the map
I stole from a boutique hotel,
though the receptionist was so kind,
on the street that opens
like a harbor of boating flags, a canopy
of clothes hanging from the balconies.
If this is art, I think I finally understand.
In the museum I visited earlier,
the main installation was a floating
bed frame, connected by steel strings,
to the ceiling, above the main entrance, which,
to me, seemed an apt description of faith.
The bed, though, illustrated some current
theory of the universe, the movement
of gravity or the bending of light. How precious, then,
are our moments of weightlessness?
My only friend in this country, drunk, without
our keys, is two or four streets over,
hopefully, where I left him. When he told me
he had lost our keys, my heart
felt as weightless as a toolbox. Where
would we stay? We have a train in seven hours.
What about our clothes? Or the hosts we’ve betrayed?
Forgive me, I took the map because I am in a hurry.
The unusual thing about the installation
was that the sheets were rigid fishnets
or a dark chicken wire. Light makes density
ambiguous and gravity throws sheets
like a chore. I am taking a minute
to myself, in an alley, under a balcony,
to breathe because I am sober and have to find
us a place to sleep. I lean my head
back against the gothic brick. The narrowness
between buildings makes the perfect telescope.
The shirts, the sheets, the delicateness of their gravity;
night peeking through, exhibiting what I think
the installation meant: a sculpture rotating with the Earth,
everywhere, dangling like little experiments.
How precious, these clothes we live in.