We make our way without hurry but also without rest. // It turned out that the important communication for me to get was that there could be a blotting out, & that this blank could be the only fact & the only thing that was real. // I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth anyone’s while to buy it. //
Canoe & Swimming & Dock
On any relatively flat surface a four-legged stool will always wobble, if only the tiniest bit, but a three-legged stool will be perfectly stable. // In between is a precious moment of anger, but this is quickly lost, or perhaps never experienced, always potential & carrying fear of violence. // The reason is that the object that is not there (because you do not go for it) is more real than the object that someone might bring. // We all feel a discreet tension in waiting for something to breach each frame, or–the tension torqued–in responding when something does. //
Kids in the Woods & Levi’s Monologue
A cropped episode, its few forms stolen or rescued, for a time, from the lesser sphere of human bustle & leverage & accounting. // A season, a time, & half a time. // Some spiders capture their prey not because their silk is sticky but because their webs are constructed in such an irregular way that other bugs get tangled up, then ensnared. // The trick is to practice steady vigilance without sliding into nervous paranoia. Too much heightened attention can cripple a person. //
Auction & Truck Discovery
The only way to undo a complex, stubborn knot is to bend very, very close & work with a patience that is just as stubborn as the knot. // Consequently, the pleasures of untangling are richer than the pleasures of tangling, though all of these pleasures are comprised in the auto-antonym “ravel,” which means entangle as well as disentangle. // Every day our garments become more assimilated to ourselves, receiving the impress of the wearer’s character, until we hesitate to lay them aside. //
Laundromat & Mary’s Monologue
What interests any sort of maker is the working–the interested living–not the disinterested spectatorship. // The evaluations entailed, however, are variously motivated & variously contextualized. // All that remained was a small, tight coil of wire–gone to rust though not spoiled–& a few sections of pipe caked in concrete. // Nearly invisible filaments tie this thing to that one, & so on, & all of it’s held under a sort of tent, what might be called a firmament. //
Kids in the Field & Sophia’s Monologue
Were those movements maneuvers or reflexes? Did we subsist by ledge or by ledger? // Was the undergrowth eroded or overtaken? Are the bodies distinguished by folds, facets, or fissures? Which will define the day: contours or counters? Is there rhythm here, or only repetition? // The pain of certain bites is not caused by venom, but merely by the mechanical piercing of the skin. //
Family Kitchen Meal & Rustler Day Driving
Hearty greens can & ought to be washed quite vigorously. // A small house might be compared to a nest or a shell or a ship. At times, we need to go indoors to get out of the world, to take a break. // I plucked the newest, palest leaf from the youngest tree in the yard and placed it on a table for viewing, but it curled up as it died, like a spider, or a storybook. //
Girl Biking & Family Day Driving
Slowly everyone in continuous repeating, to their minutest variation, comes to be clearly realized: every kind of one comes into ordered recognition, the subtle variations coming clear into ordered recognition. Repeating, then, is in every one, everyone comes sometime to be clearer to someone. // The work done by most bodies is less a matter of strain & force than of endurance, for a time. Such labor is an improvised choreography. // We were away, looking at flowers in the flower district. //
Family Cows Working & Wes Monologue
There are two material questions attached to every texture you encounter: 1) How did it get this way? 2) What could I do with it? // Experiences in the area of potential space allow us to have periods of rest from the struggle to draw lines between ourselves & others. // He has always done a great deal of thinking from the earliest times & he has always used his intellect to keep things going & he has enjoyed this. //
Family Field Cloudy & Camping
I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands that is necessary. My head is hands & feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout & fore-paws. // When pressed, do you tend to side with the ardent or the adamant? // The desire that propels pleasure propels us away from our “possessions” & forth into the world. //
Wrestling & Cattle Rustling
Each witnessed fact seemed as if it had been sieved from some turbulence or carved out of ambient space.// In hot weather, when metal doors swell shut, they have to be throttled, then kicked open. // Two faces may be similar when at rest, but as soon as there is animation they become different. // Along with this they were able to describe certain enrichments in their actual living in the world. // We were dealing with the fact that animals & small children cannot be told what is happening. //
Rustler Monologue & Night Driving Family & Kitchen Night Scene
We thought about going by new names, or at least traveling under them. // No method or discipline can supersede the necessity of being forever on the alert, & the black kernel of the night was never profaned by any human neighborhood. // The smallest movement–not occurring or not noticed at first, poignantly minute, in the barely perceptible recesses of the surface-mesh–suddenly shakes the whole, floods the scene. //
Sometime there will be an orderly history of everyone who ever was or is or will be living, every creature. This is, then, a beginning of the way of knowing everything in everyone, of knowing the complete history of each one who ever is or was or will be living. //
- This was written (more so assembled) to serve as an optional audio track, a sort of “verbal score,” for Micah & Whitney Stansell’s 8-channel film installation, “The Water & the Blood.” The voice-over track was synced to the film’s episodes, & could only be heard through portable headphones that were available on site (the film has been installed at several galleries & public spaces).
- The section headings here were written by the Stansells, prior to my writing of the voice-over texts, in order to serve as a short-hand map of the scenes & episodes in their film.
- The above text is a patchwork. It is made up of my own writings as well as assorted scraps from D.W. Winnicott, Gertrude Stein, Henry David Thoreau, & Lyn Hejinian; one Ralph Waldo Emerson sentence; a phrase from poet Zack Finch; & a short passage from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.
- // = [beat]
John Harkey teaches high school in Columbus, GA. Some of his poems and a few bits of prose can be found at Prelude, Similar Peaks, EOAGH, Cheap Pop, and Cold Front, and his chapbook Mask Work (2013) was published by Little Red Leaves. Find him murmuring over at @FelixFardo.