Experiment with Aspic

It commences. Here
   it is endless. Mostly
poverty. Parallel to
the railway track.
Manure, procession,
conniptions. It is crisp.
   A labyrinth. It is here
it commences. Lac,
it is said. Or albumen.
    Gourds, chikus, com-
prehensions of ripeness.
What’s fresh, what’s
   not, under the same
feckless auspices.
Luxury, it is said, moves,
    sometimes, at midday.
Mellow the light cast on
such euphemistic striations.
        On the goathooks
(up ahead), on the garlands
    (up ahead up ahead).
The muffled scene of death
to which the lines proceed,
curved. Citrus curling up
   the light, so tart it is.
   But here, here where it
commences, here, from where
the lines, endless, proceed,
    here the voices, here
the prices. Lacquer on this
produce, surreal photography,
tainted reverie. Nothing clean
yet, presence implied, not seen.
        It proceeds, an extreme
   intelligence can be held
in the hands, is. Slight burn
    from the citrus, slight build
from up the ground. Euphemism
    for shanty. Euphemism for
        indigence. Skinny body,
slender bean, sturdy drumsticks
   snap. Nothing clean, yet
the causal knives luxuriate.
Lone jackfruit, abandoned
beehive. Nightshade in terror
    of being shook. The lymph is
anxious. The child rears her
        ugly head, slow capacity
for memory. Lacquer, she says.
   Lacquer on this. This kind of
traffick is difficult to curb. Her skin
is light, her mother’s translucent.
    This is how it begins, the acts
of comprehending things, softening,
   into the basket, plastic,
        the voiceless hellos, a
      tendency, hushed.
   An impossible sculptural
    aspect her eyes laminate.
Things mature along
   this aisle that’s endless.
And she too, in the town
called Fraser, opposite
the police station and the
pork shop, parallel to the
railway track, she too
        developed symptoms,
    hysteria, depression,
     a deviant sexualized
    mesmerism. She told us,
not without resistance,
      that she had had an
   education. Her mother
spoke the apt languages.
She said nothing but lacquer.
   Lacquer on this. The brain
like a jelly, something trapped
        in it. She views it
with her double-eye, its
      glittering mound
   of curvatures, lipid-rich
      broth. We call it in the vulgar
gelatin. We will return to this point
later. For the child rears her head
to the sound of community, which
   she hears as tribe, later mafia.
    She appears to comprehend
but does not the sorrow
   of haggling. Whether she might
come to say it, let’s not insure.
   But it is here it commences.
The thickenings of lymph,
the persistent shyness, the passions.
        It is endless. As symbol, luxury,
she finds, and poverty are the same.
   She listens prodigally. Correlatives
    appear, disappear. She lacquers
them. But poverty, she finds, is,
    in act, in thought, a word, to her,
   not otherwise permitted, real.
Articulacy then was of elbows
    and knees. The spirit never quite
levels between her mother and
   the woman on the blue tarp,
but they touch hands. The mother
communes with nearly every one.
    The child rears her ugly head,
quizzical. Recrudescence
   that’s luscious, shutting down
institutes. Speak, she says, speak,
my heart is gelatin. If anything luxe
        is, it is this severe
unthinkable audio. Palatial,
   she says. In futures glorious
and systematic the word ATELIER
   will come to describe this
     pure fragment, this collapse of lines.
Curvatures, she thinks. Conniptions.
   The dusty, colloidal elegance, she
thinks, of air. She views it with her
        double-eye, sculptural aspect.
A powdery substance overlays things,
steady music. It is here she comes to
        comprehend, tender,
later, smell it. We call it in the vulgar
money. Speak, she speaks. The humors
reside not in but a quarter of an inch
   away from her, settling sometimes
as sweat. She was extraordinarily
    vulnerable, with not even a
rotten core. What might coerce her
   to nostalgia. Hot tea chilled jelly
dissolves. No quality here. It is
      nothing and the saw. The recrude-
scence is luscious, shuts down law.
   It began as tendency. Petty crime.
      Delirium of touching. Passion of
the silk. Subjective correlatives.
   Desire, dark wishes, ossifications,
   and abbreviations of sound. The
refusal to dance, the turning away
    inside the apostrophe. Meditative
processional. It got heavy. She
   lacquered it. She viewed it with her
      vulgar eye. She lacquered it.
         No delicacy obtained. She put it
   away in its pure future, glittering
mound. The opposite of hot tea
    and a biscuit. Lacquer on it.
Endless, mostly. Difficult to discern.
   The conniptions. Cognitions. This kind
of traffick is difficult to curb. But no,
       it did not affect her. No one was
             spirited away. This was not the meadow
         in which she grew. No one haggled,
    no one withdrew. It was as a lacquer
on her.

From Emporium (Nightboat Books, 2020). This poem originally appeared in the Lana Turner. Used with the permission of Nightboat Books and the author.