from The Sorrow And The Fast Of It



Nails me to this unnamable.


††††††††††† Not a theology of place. Not a masquing of remembrance. Not a

fortitude. Nothing as disabled, as damaged, as that. We wish for.


††††††††††† The significances fall each to the ground. The promontory ruins. The

leaning bicycle. The chafed walls. The painted rooftops. The feral sky (blue, and

blue). All of which might be liminal. A strained littoral. Won by water. Gagnť.

Verging and caught up. A wildness in a city corridor. A blank. A fill. An unwalled.

A failed language in the place of a language that fails.


††††††††††† The awareness of a non-existent thing. The readiness with which.


††††††††††† In the other book. The book for waiting. The book for what is lost in the

lost place.


††††††††††† It is the foreignness of the word please in a mouth that closes. In a

mouth that masticates. Is the foreignness.


††††††††††† Isnít me.




We walk beside.


††††††††††† Here, there is the second time. Here, there is the unsaid. Here, the

altercation. After. It isnít easy, like this, to make a tracing of an unrecorded. Of a

next thing.


††††††††††† I find a way to say. In multiplied passagings. The country of

abandonment. The river of wreckage. The lines and lines for retrieving. The

many forwardings. Like this undressing myself in a public place. The doors flung

open. The oceans unabated. Rising a wall a wall rising an immediacy of counter

and restrain. A doubt that widens into a body larger than every other body and it

presses down and it makes everything small that was big to begin with in the

very middle of what is intended to be wrong.


††††††††††† We didnít say: We will try again.


††††††††††† Nor: Ask me instead.


††††††††††† Try as we might we rise and we rise. The whole of everything beneath





Now there is a sadness.


††††††††††† (Is it good to say : is a sadness ?) It is in the distance between the spent

place. In the hill that would be colline. In the mouth that says awkwardly prosim.

A rail line crossing a bordered ground. The hands circling around a shared flame.

The sadness that might be in the curvature of líanse. What is cove. What is

coveted. Covered. What a folded skin makes of scar. A rivulet for cut. A deep rut.

And this is its outpouring. This is its gut. All pustule. All magotted and fussed.


††††††††††† An ended thing. Looked up.




I warn the masterpiece against its bigotry. I warn the beast against a verge of

ville. I make myself flat in a field for wintering. I score the crossed-out text for

lack. I lead the human to its walled-in dream. I claim a fake history. I show my

skin off. I eat colourful things. I make the light dim. I watch from a sealed window.


The mouth is in ruin. The words are copied out a hundred times. I make
the chalk mark on the sidewalk in three differences. I do the other time. I stall on
an underside.


Say aloud this time : We are as ugly as we mean to be.



Nathalie Stephens writes l'entre-genre in English and French. She is the author of a dozen books including Paper City (2003), Je NathanaŽl (2003) and L'Injure (2004), a finalist of the Prix Alain-Grandbois and the Prix Trillium. Je NathanaŽl exists in English self-translation with BookThug (2006). Other work exists in Basque and Slovene with book-length translations forthcoming in Bulgarian. Imminent with Nota Bene is an essay of correspondence entitled L'absence au lieu : Claude Cahun et le livre inouvert. The Sorrow And The Fast Of It will be published in 2007 by Nightboat Books.

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