Jean Day
from The Literal World


Two from "Narratives from the Crib"


5. For me, everything is physical: beginning, ending, and especially the practice required to get from one to the other. (Spaghetti, after all, though repetitious, begins and ends in my hands.) Take beginning: In an age of comic genitalia, I find myself funny all the time, that is, to the extent that I find myself. When I wake up I am always translating backward into an original language; the seed is forever opening and the husk misplaced. Light, for example, comes and goes without accruing any particular meaning, unless you count memory, but I'm getting ahead of myself to find a vantage from which to look back. Back to this light; is it audible? Emotional? To call it blue situates it in the sky, which is accurate but not sufficient to my condition, what you might call the passion in me. Do scholars feel this way too? I am completely unaware of any end point; in fact, I understand the progress of a day in terms of genre, the seamless transition from one to the next; one minute I'm waving good bye and the next I'm overwhelmed in the hallucinatory hellos of milk. Or led over that mountain now to the next horizon. My hand is exactly me in that blue I mentioned earlier, following her, inventing itself. Such are the powers of periphrasis.


7. "Thank you, this chaos was wonderful." We had been talking about time, whether, in terms of experience, we should call this noon, night, or morning and whether, in any case, the metaphor might be allowed to come back and eat itself, as we have so often been tempted to do. I was in bed with my desirabilia, cozy in contemplating the interdependence of my first words with the sounds of theirs and the silent ones in pictures. I mean, it's something of a relief to know it's not wholly up to me to invent the shadows, even the best of my own future thoughts. Then I fell asleep and dreamed briskly of leaving home (it was a national act), of the march of human history over my backyard—but that set off a certain squawking, then sirens, and suddenly I felt mad to suck but unsure whether this was a conservative or merely punctual instinct. A case of temps perdu or prelude to the seriousness of a kiss? Later I may innovate ...