The Poetry Project

excerpt from SPRAWL

Danielle Dutton

Dear Mrs. Baxter, Welcome. Your earnest and expensive skepticism is otherworldly. For this reason, I advise you to take two or three sheets of paper and make a journal of anything remarkable that occurs in the next few days. Idle romances, typographical reproductions, eye- and ear-witness testimony, the reality of our special community—I recommend all these pleasures to you now. You’ll need to keep track. You’ll have to be strong, Mrs. Baxter. Everything is different, but over time, to a certain extent, nothing really happens. Such is the critical authenticity of every historical moment. Focus on apprehensible objects and their previously unapprehended relationships to other objects around your house or this place (your body to fish, glass to a quality of mind). It’s a deal of fun. Yours, etc. Noise of a cat running over stiff grass, but the cat doesn’t matter so much as the feelings its tiny feet feel. It bends a sort of emptiness around. Haywood goes out very naturally and then he comes back in. He tells people there is such a thing as cultural enchantment. He presents me with all sorts of failed objects. He holds them up against my body so that I harden into wrinkles and strange postures. This is in our bedroom or at home in front of a whole shelf of very terrible books. His arm reaches out and rests on the table and I hesitate to stand and turn and look. Instead I might function on a practical level, such as people who hardly ever articulate what they know, or I might behave in a way to be admired, mounted, like a pretty hen, or a comprehensive weapon to be polished.

from SPRAWL (Wave Books, 2018)

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