071.1: Shamala Gallagher:: Mirror Room & Untitled (Brief Night) & Poem 071

These three poems by Shamala Gallagher present a dialectic between nothingness and somethingness: "What I want to look at is bareness, how it is not a hard stone to turn to but a wave that glitters to itself in the nothing." The speakers in these poems struggle to find a space of pure emptiness, eventually wearing themselves "down / to the hour's white pit" in their quest. None of the poems states explicitly why the speakers are contemplating or seeking nothingness, instead gesturing toward possible events: "What it is to love someone who stares at nothing." These speakers, though, are unable to find nothingness that isn't contained in somethingness, with the nothing contained in the something of an empty bowl or empty bead. This creates a discomfort that evokes a singular and poignant version of mourning and loss. These are not poems of breast-beating and wailing or elegizing; these are poems generating that moment in which we feel like we have nothing, we have lost everything, in which we want everything to be nothing, and yet everywhere we look we find only something. This something that forces itself upon us becomes both the source of our pain and the source of our eventual healing, our return to the tender world: "I moved here, horizon note of droning bugs so I could hear the time go on." Andrew Wessels

Mirror Room


when you have worn yourself down
to the hour’s white pit

who will believe you have been there
dirt pearl of yourself, strange pale root of yourself

you are still here, someone else has run miles
in the cold shining air, you are

here with your feelings, dirt pearl
who shone with accident, empty bowl

who shone, there was too much virtue,
empty painted box, there was no

virtue, just an empty
painted box, pale hour’s root here

waiting white thoughts, shining
axes crack without names on the house

someone else has run miles
in the cold shining air

whole day sitting up for you
strange beaded things you thought

before you were pure, strange
white seeing glittering there

winter empty of water
whole white year you’re alone

I wait for you
in the silk heart of nothing



Untitled (Brief Night)


like a brief night lizard,

wanted you a warm
lamp

          but more honest
                    are no homes

just wind
just brief upfaced palms


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the cat will come back or not

the stars will be icy and far

the cup will be blue
the water empty

you will be loved as much as you’re loved



Poem


What it is to love someone who stares at nothing. Empty bead. Sky is close as bedsheets folding over a face and night is usual. Eyes are only brown and circle. Sighs are sighs. Here and there on the wall a mosquito like a hair on the bare page of the shower. I took away and away each easy joy and each grin I wanted to meet, each flicker of light on a stage. Until there was only you and the day like a bare floor. What I want to look at is bareness, how it is not a hard stone to turn to but a wave that glitters to itself in the nothing. The world is here with its inimitable aches but it is like this too. Or I don’t know. I met someone who had been hungry for a year and eating never sated it, and now it started in me. You look at the poison in someone’s blood and you wish you could feel it. Then you’ve stood in the opening dark until one day the poison’s in yours. You waited with your finger there while I opened to myself. This is love. I moved here, horizon note of droning bugs so I could hear the time go on.