Poetry

by
Laurie Anne Whitt*

AN AMPHIBIAN
double-lived
intermediary
never wholly
one, and not
entirely the
other, it is
what remains
in the space
between gill
& lung, fish
& reptile: a
dual-habited
evolutionary
gamble still
unfolding in
the boundary
world, where
two elements
touch, alter
one another.
SCREE
i.
I have seen it happen,
unexpectedly
a deep rumble & the
side of a mountain
gives way,
burying everything below
in scree
a jumbled spill of jagged rock.
Millenia of weathering
may be needed
before a mountainside
comes to this,
talus
loose fragments, a nearly
impassable rubble
that may still be
part of the mountain,
or not.
ii.
It happens too in poetry:
without warning, words
dislodge from the world
when they amass more
swiftly
than forces of erosion
can remove them
and course down;
they tumble to the poet
in a heap
coming to rest
on the white-sloped page
where the process of
weathering is displaced
by crafting, as the poet
works away
a perilous, precarious going.
Millenia may pass
before the world &
the poet come to this
a steep slide of
words,
shards of language
poems partly about the
world,
and partly not.
BOUNDARY FORMS
Stretching like sinews
holding muscle to bone, they draw
bodies together.
BELONGING/BETWEEN
Exceptions to the taxonomic system
threaten our basic model for order,
signify intrusion. Ambiguity sets off
an anxious reaction. - Paul Shephard
They are the breach
and what heals the breach;
creatures of hyphenation
whose cleft bodies
move like patient
leviathans
past deep rifts
in consciousness,
beyond riven
understanding
into the great zones
of separation
dubious interspaces
where danger lies
in fissures
and fusions
that come too early,
or end too late.
*
Hybrids, mongrels, mixed-
bloods and half-breeds
learn to fill the
cracks
they slip between;
the lessons of marginality.
They pass through borders
undetected
smuggling mediated
states of being,
lives split by lines
that are as real
as artificial.
Poised between realms,
between dividers
& their divisions
for them there is one
way of belonging,
it is on the other side
SURROUNDING STORIES
i.
They are told in metes & bounds,
in seasons of darkness
where fear and hunger
are strong.
Boundaries come into being
through them
spilling onto lands & lives,
splitting them:
edges appear
where there were none
& gather into circles,
trying to make themselves
whole, to become one;
a ceaseless task
since they sever everything
& some must lie without
when others lie within.
Borders are lines
where something else begins.
ii.
Surrounding stories are
vital & necessary
but false & incomplete.
Powerful creatures,
creators of definition
they mark conceptual
& territorial domains.
With each telling
they gain strength
& circumscribe
more fully,
drawing those like 'us'
close away from
those like 'them'.
Borders are lines
where something else begins.
iii.
But in the spaces between
ambiguities surface;
stories run aground
become rimmed
by marginalia,
part of yet apart
from them.
In the borderlands
are beings
which hold other
stories together
mining & undermining them.
Borders are lines
where something else begins.

* Laurie Anne Whitt
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Michigan Technological University
lawhitt@mtu.edu

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