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Gangwisch & Yudelson – May 2023

Ruthie Yudelson and JLS Gangwisch traded art and words. JLS shared this augmented reality photo series, titled “cadenc,” with Ruthie (experience the full project here):

In response, Ruthie wrote this poem:


the Angel was jammed halfway through the kitchen window,
face hanging above the bubbly ruckus of the sink.
I immediately fetched pen and paper and sat at the breakfast counter to write.
This writing had two purposes: to chronicle God’s
official declaration of war (see peace treaty Psalms 115:16)
and also because it was remarkable, and
remarkable things ought be made into art.

He resisted this.
I wrote his guileless neck
and he writhed and writhed.
I wrote his uncountable eyes
and he cried and cried.
From the saltwater flood in my kitchen (lasting forty days and forty nights)
I wrote the penumbra of his presence
and he shot forth beams of light, almost killed me where I sat.
the great and terrible quiescence of his wings.
the long fingers,which I thought I saw wrapped around
Ateret’s baby when she came out bruised and blue.

Know this about Angels: they do not want the things you want.
They do not care if you make it out alive.
Their ladders lead a million shades of nowhere. I
like people because we care, although we are terrible
at it. We possess no sterile holiness, no numinous
hospital gowns and mostly we don’t know how to be
better. Come, wish improvement out to empty space.

I wrote the many wheels of his head like cogs in a deific machine
and he cried out, in every tongue at once, You undo me! You undo me!

The sages say that once the blood has left
your mouth it is no longer your blood.

I opened the window. He flew off, singular tree trunk
of a limb swaying artlessly in the wind.
I let him go for two reasons: we must be merciful
as the Gods we wish we had. And also,
trapped in my page as he is,
we can crack the lines open, suck
out his blessing-marrow,
let it drip in rivers down our chins—
healing us, helping us, lighting our way.

* * * * * *

Ruthie shared this poem with JLS:

Rejoice (Cancer)

It helps once you learn to want smaller things:
the trash taken out, a friend’s voice on the phone.
these things you can build. also, whatever soup
you like— if you make it now, it will be ready by dinner.
it’s good to want the possibly-incrementally-better.
make a group chat with the siblings. call up a wig
shop, and then a better wig shop. call up the insurance
to pay for the better wig shop. call up that friend to
cry about the insurance, how it’s never what you want
it to be. stop wanting proper medical coverage and
start wanting to get to sleep. if you pray hard enough,
you will get to sleep. and the things you’ve become
used to wanting— the electric triumphs of youth and talent,
the last-dance reversals of romance and the sweet calls of
adventure, the unchanged home to return to, the constant
tumble towards the beautiful unknown (which you still believed in!)
and also the space to stay up late and wake up smiling—
when you imagined that fulfillment,
you saw how you’d rejoice
in the aching
morning light.

I know I am asking everything of you: to be causeless effect,
to be ontological stronghold, to maintain this terrarium of being.
to hunger only for the soup already simmering.

but it’s still morning. it’s still light. it still aches.

In response, JLS created this generative animation, titled “_composure” (experience the full project here):

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