Rachel Blau DuPlessis — Draft XXX: Fosse
from Drafts 1-38, Toll (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001)


Imagine a book, a little book,
	whose words are covered
		one by one  
with the smallest pebbles--
		fossils imprinted, shale splinters,
slag and gnarls from fossick,
		cheap sweepings arrayed,
a road of morse lines
	step by step
		down the page.

It looks like poetry, runs along depths
	on the surface, slugs
		of a text that is lost;
the instruction it offers
	is delicate,
		maybe misplaced.

The words and their syntax
		not to nothing
		(for the lover of pebbles)
but to an irradiating splayed out
		so large
it can only be
	marked thus:

+ It could say erosion of the book.

	The pace of the traveller
slowed along the Hansel-Gretel highway,
	given bits of scrap and cornbread
that innocent birds go after, given shiny pebbles
	far too pretty for the story.

	The easy exit does not exist.
	The circumstance offers more.
She had laid that trail to have it get effaced,
	in order to be abandoned 
	to the scrub of a dark wood.

+ It says erasure so cunningly,
	mimics little words
		(flat pebbles),
brings them all to the a
	or to the the of "be."
		Can choose to investigate.

+ The wordless words
	behind the blocked out words
can be more compassionate than
	the word.
The pebbled lines are filled with otherness;
With only the speech of the stone, 
	they gain in empathy.
Reopen pity.
+  Deep ditch, road cut, folds of rock
propose a book of the unraveling voice
incapable and swamped
in the same time as the self.  

There is a modulation of feeling
"set myself this meditation"


barely       reading

to begin.


Imagine a reader, who would resist
	and not resist--
Lightning flashes
	hot silverline domes over the mountain--

resist each word
	even the long night of characters, actions, choreography
which reenact her plundering defiance, resist
	and still articulate the gloss, 
	the implacable sweetness
of the Stone.

Narrative sections contain instruction, include
statements about underpass and loophole
do this, do that, listen, do not
invest yourself beyond yourself
for you are
a representative of fire 
in the windy hopeless cavern, a spark
unable to warm the dark but able still
to see its flaring cries

without light, able 
to clasp the mists of loss.

There is a space, a ditch
	shallow along the contours of earth
		this bumpy knoll or that hillock
but deep enough to cover
		for a couple of years,
until it worms out
	its readable shard,
		its hoops of unforgiveable bone.

Here to imagine the reader
marked by another ring of mark a / a \
makr, all that morganlongne daag dawning, of 
the mist
the missed

for a meniscus tension of exhumation
swells the page--
fugue and segue, modicums of wander
for the locus

all along the shifting boundary


Childrenhad gottenup to the attic
hadtaken the boxedmemor
abilia and begunto strew
		the past became
clutter upon clutter.
	There was no order, no size, no year;
		emotional response was totally mixed. 
			What turned up,
what had gone, where by accident something
	was into another box. . . . And the book
	of photographs no longer
		fits here, once it was looked at,
			thereupon put, or push, or pull it into, or
out of there. Thus the random recovery
	of unresolved tidbits
can never be assimilated.
	This is the condition of time, going forward athwart
no matter the "gifts" of shame, fantasy, and memory,
	no matter the organic strangeness
of irreversibility.
		This is the condition of time
stuck all over (Merzhouses of Tyree Guyton in Detroit)
with debris of
temporalities gone
		(Merzhouses of Tyree Guyton bulldozed)  
	nothing and everything
	plaster-faced dolls, 
	plastic tops from margerine tubs,
	tin tea trunk

along strata of ever-disjunctive 
			folds, and smash.
Imagine it
	without the rhetorics of pity
		but not pitiless,
O ruisseaux, o bull of gold and
	lapis, the tongue
		blue lapis
thick with lyric and wine,
	caught in bosky lute trees
caught for song, for song;	
	the charm that licks your ear,
Bos Voice
	webbed one way round with strings
		and wound by
linen and pegs. To hold.
	Pressured against. The wood
and sinews gut bound
	leaned into the plectrum
like a figurehead
	drenched by rose.

The bull plays within himself
	at the heart of the labyrinth.

Can visit him dead
bask in his anger and the dirty light
of poetry
and try it all again
astir, that
trenchant call across the fosse
to activate
		is it prophecy?
		is it instruction?
		is it mourning?

Whatever the genre,

let it "pass thru its own answerlessness."


		Go stony book

		Step across        

		Embrace the wraithe

not as demanded in foundational commandment

nor as refused in annihilating compleynt

but just in the course of things

casting oneself to the same winds.

							June-July 1996
Rachel Blau DuPlessis EPC homepage