Keith Waldrop
from The Not Forever


XI – a vanity

                                                                          "The notion of elsewhere was beyond her:'

                                                          Johanna Drucker, Otherspace: Martian Ty/Pography


The world I see—there—here—is the world I remember. What is to
come is behind me. As I look back. . .


                                   lute, skull, globe, hour-
                                   glass, and

                                   [end of


                                   books, music, instruments of
                                   war, astronomy, elements

                                   of the liturgy
                                   viol with a broken

                                   [this century, as
                                   past as any]

                                   string, sextant, compasses, candle
                                   the candle


                                   church in
                                   ruins, the churchyard


                                   pillar of



I have a terrible habit of remembering the death of people who are still
alive, killing them off by an act of memory.

     False memory, I suppose I should call it, but sometimes a person
whose death I remember is in fact dead and my memorial in that case
seems no different in character.

     Until, by some chance or other, I discover that one I have killed still
lives. Perhaps he phones me.

      Or I run into her on my way somewhere.

      Or I find an obituary:

       someone I killed long ago is now dead.





                                                   attached to
                                                   the body, a counter-

                                                   soul of the

                                                   skeleton, lower
                                                   brain, sea-horse and

                                                   you who follow me are not
                                                   my children


Rain beats at the window, while from the other side precise daylight,
gray under a comprehensive cloud but brighter than I would have
expected for such a gray day, filters through.

    But no, this I beheld with eyes closed and, I suspect, before waking had
broken my sleep's regular rhythm.

    I saw it—think, or thought, I saw it—in a dream.

    The day, awake, is not at all like that.



                                                         unhandled, cannot
                                                         be imagined, hypothetical


    ...can turn up at any moment

                                                         a place in the
                                                         lattice, noonday on
                                                         earth or

                                                         beneath earth

                                                         gloomy boundary, world
                                                         or not world

                                                         musk mingled
                                                         with orchids, countless
                                                         stars in ruin

                                                         battle to the
                                                         death, settling nothing but
                                                         place of burial


I see, so often, glanced in a mirror, the door just going shut.


    (North, vague image of Jealousy.)

    Color reversal.






had not occurred to her that he...


                              strange behavior, accomplished


                              dragonfly groups, force-
                              sensitive organs


                              block and ax

                              pillar of


who said?: Thought will not go far in a negative direction, so things are
always worse than we think.



                              scarcely able to
                              speak for weeping, heavy

                              grasp on my arm

                              machine, universal

                              gates of torment, mimic
                              [lost to this world]

                              mourned as dead, forgotten


                              can scarcely weep, for

                              down, up

                              a noise which I could call

                              pillar of



out of which...


                                                         strange beauty

                                                         caught in the hearsay