I am standing in the river and, absent any structural changes, I will still be standing in the river. Absent any structural changes I am examining an inky pen I found in the river. This was how I first gained access to Gertrude Stein’s deathbed. Pull the curtain back and Gertrude Stein’s deathbed is there. “Deathbeds are a leisure product,” the voice from above calls out. The voice from above is a rescue pattern, the sincerely possessed dovetail center. I forgot that I had started weeping just for the compensatory elation. When did I get to be outside of being a woman? The woman without qualities. Around the deathbed are many objects and beside each object a moment of private translation. Communications are like whiskers jutting out sideways from the mouth, and we are drinking wine and talking about being born.
I pick up an object that surrounds the deathbed and I say to it, “I am looking for something to write with.” My devotion to the good-enough object holds supreme. How my bodysuit flows gently downstream. Once I stood over a facedown body and said the words, “I am looking for something to write with.” No response from the wrecked sprawl of limbs and I can’t believe I said, as if unaware of all that was happening, “I am looking for something to write with.”
What was happening was only forfeiture. All spaces that are evacuated are mourned while we pass through them. My fantasy is for none of this to resolve. “Let it not resolve,” said the woman face down burying herself. I was glad too about the silence. My attention stops in the soft moment of the deathbed. Deathbeds are slept in sometimes. And thrown out. Call up the image of the universe as a whole. I am sorting the good-enough objects from the objects which merely soothe.
Anna Gurton-Wachter is a writer, editor and archivist. Her chapbooks include The Abundance Chamber Works Alone (2017, Essay Press), Blank Blank Blues (2016, Horse Less Press) and CYRUS (2014, Portable Press @ Yo Yo Labs). Other writing has appeared in Elderly, 6x6, No Dear, The Organism for Poetic Research, The Brooklyn Rail and elsewhere. She also contributed to the Essay Press digital collection of post-election writings Radio 11.18.16. Anna edits and makes book with DoubleCross Press and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan