As she wends through the canal leading into the bay, her boat passes under a small, arched bridge. She is alone, strong and slight, a bit of complexity passing over the stillness of the water. Tonight her friend will prepare something for her to eat and wait with it on the bridge. But as the hour approaches, the scene, suffused in the classical tradition of painterly composition, remains as it is. Left to resemble cave sketchings or sand art, time does not move. Hair slicked, shoes polished, the story remains steadfast, indifferent to the observer, needs in tow. The vignette is later described as night fishing.
We are attracted to every aspect of life that represents a last illusion yet unshattered. There comes a time when each action emblematic of a principle is graphically depicted in icons crafted for public consumption, a visual etymology a lot like ancient Chinese. The scroll reads best if it is understood as the musings of an outsider: On Tuesdays and Saturdays an unholy mixture of wheat and corn in discordant fields. On most any day, in a wind of pigeons or in complexity theory, the measure of information in a message is our inability to shorten it—tongue, tail, or wing.
Unusually high gates: But everyone knows that a scholar or the relative
of a cardinal lives in the guesthouse. Songs and laughter, ducks in pairs,
newly arrived swallows over the morning sand. Now and again vineyards
at dusk, now and again at war. The rumor of a forsaken man drenched in
sunlight, rain dripping from his shoulders. The important instant comes
when he emerges in silhouette: A black figure risen from a ditch carved
from the bog acres before he was born.
Night Fishing: The first statement of section two condenses a sentence in Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past.
Organizing a Piece of Cheese: The poem is influenced by Johannes Bobrowski and Czeslaw Milosz. The third and fourth sentences of section one paraphrase Micah, 6:8 in the Torah.