BY REBECCA LINDENBERG
The capital city. Arrowroot. Water-bur. Colts. Hail. Bamboo grass. The round-leaved violet. Club moss. Water oats. Flat river-boats. The mandarin duck.
—The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon
The sky. And the sky above that. The exchange of ice between mouths. Other people’s
My friend says we never write about anything we can get to the bottom of. For him, this
is a place arbored with locust trees. For me, it’s a language for which I haven’t quite
found the language yet.
The dewy smell of a new-cut pear. Bacon chowder flecked with thyme. Roasted duck
skin ashine with plum jam. Scorpion peppers.
Clothes on a line. A smell of rain battering the rosemary bush. The Book Cliffs. Most
forms of banditry. Weathered barns. Dr. Peebles. The Woman’s Tonic, it says on the
side, in old white paint.
The clink of someone putting away dishes in another room.
The mechanical bull at the cowboy bar in West Salt Lake. The girls ride it wearing just
bikinis and cowboy hats. I lean over to my friend and say, I would worry about
catching something. And he leans back to say, That’s really the thing you’d worry
about? We knock the bottom of our bottles together.
How they talk in old movies, like, Now listen here. Just because you can swing a bat
doesn’t mean you can play ball. Or, I’ll be your hot cross if you’ll be my bun. Well,
anyway, you know what I mean.
Somewhere between the sayable and the unsayable, poetry runs. Antidote to the river
Like a rosary hung from a certain rearview mirror. Like the infinite rasp of gravel
under the wheel of a departing car.
Gerard Manley Hopkins’s last words were I’m so happy, I’m so happy. Oscar Wilde
took one look at the crackling wallpaper in his Paris flat, then at his friends gathered
around and said, One or the other of us has got to go. Wittgenstein said simply, Tell all
my friends, I’ve had a wonderful life.