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Donovan & Demond – November 2012

Karen Donovan and Marlayna Demond traded words and art. Marlayna shared this photograph, “Untitled,” with Karen:

In response,Karen wrote this poem:

A Closed Four-Dimensional Spacetime Manifold of Vanishing Radius

As if seen through an opening, from a place
I might actually be standing, as if through a window
with all our mundane din inside close behind
now long enough separate so I turn my head
and comprehend the world in total out there,
a presence in itself without me, and so know
its dizzying scope and scale, its improbable origin,
its name, its end. As if the world were more than
a sum of objects comprising a field, grass, treeline,
sky, clouds, as if an intention, as if a message.
Rain overnight here, and morning brings this
soaked gray light, high tide brimming up a mirror
of sky and trees I could almost believe until
a fish jumps through it, world behind the world.
It’s Saturday. Our landlord sends a carpenter to repair
the front stair, and when he finishes ripping it out
sudden silence comes and pulls me from the window
to the threshold. I look down. It is only the cellar,
alien emptiness under the stair, further down
than I would rather look, into which we are now
falling, me slipping feet first and then the entire house,
the carpenter and his workbench, rain in gray light,
bent milkweed with spiny green pods, all six
baby horseshoe crab shells I gathered at Allins Cove
yesterday, the bike path, the playground, the boys
playing Hearts at the picnic shelter, down into it,
all of us, world before the world, the one
they claim reached back from omega to create itself
along with time and everything that became.
Whatever becomes begins there and knows itself
and begins to forget so it can know itself once more.
And then you come home from the grocery store,
get out of the car and walk across the yard,
and I open the door and you step in with our bags
over that hole and say something cryptic and wry
to the carpenter, who is standing right here again
smiling and holding his pry bar, and the track
is reversed and scrolls the other way, to forward,
a place where we were and might continue to be
unpacking tomatoes and sweet corn and cucumbers,
putting milk cartons away on a shelf in the fridge.

– For Walker

* * * *

Karen shared this poem with Marlayna:

Fifty Swans Could Mean Something

I don’t want to talk about what we have lost, I am not sure
there is a difference between prayer and conversation
anymore, why anything happens, why thinking
is like this breathless occupied midnight.
Out back where the clouds skim the black surface
of the pond, it’s as if we called them, and now
you are saying, Look, the whole flock is here.
They drift, nickering, white boats on a moonless tide,
making and breaking engagements on a night when everything
gets decided. It is time to sleep, but who can sleep?
The water could not be blacker. We watch them,
lights off in the house, window slid wide,
standing on the great divide where the mind
is always leaving the body behind.

In response, Marlayna made this photograph, “Untitled”:

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