It is sad
I mistook in my own handThe word capable for gambleKicking and testing the newRaw earth how children doThe very ground along a creekKicking stones, percussingWith little sticks in both handsApplying questions, scraping atWhat meager surface makes itselfAvailable. A man on a stoneSits on his heels observing,
With a hand he strikes his stone.He could be anyone. The childrenIn pink and lavender, he could beMocking them, their violence,He could be making a mark, a tally,A piece of white across the stone, could beHis cigarette across the stone, oppositeOf lighting a match. Opposite of spark.Quick fleck of spit received by water.
It is nothing
Thus call it a comfort, a curing,A charcuterie—the pretty salty words—Venereal, secret, syphilitic.Government doctor looseOn a southern population testingA sense of ground gathered to himAn audience—prison orphanage [End Page 123] Colony asylum—He cannot explainThe gifts he transmits, he saysThey could not understand, that is,Would not be capable. I would not
Be capable. He scratched each chargeBelow the knee, inscribed it withDisease. It cannot be saidThey were given nothing, they wereGiven sight, constant oversight.The doctor’s wife made documentsWith her camera, black and white,As the pinks, lavenders made ground.I could not make enough of looking,I could not resist making a figureOf the records, a swollen archivesNot my memory, yet infectsThe ground I see, of my seeing.
It is sunny
Anger, making light of nothing really.Oxeye Rosehip Raspberry PoplarCabbage Carrot Kale. The moonyFlowers I cannot name but cameTo piss on looking up one night.Who can tell the phosphenesFrom true stars? Of its own accord
The sky began, of its own the skyBegan with me to light, at leastA lightening, scratched into a senseOf galaxy, I could not be sure,Does the sky of its own accordAbrade itself, does the sky liftAt night. He said the mind is notA shortcut and stopped.
It is evil
[End Page 124]
A pattern subtracted by water’s action,Kicking and testing surface, ribbedCapillaries, negative rooting, surfaceAnd ground of sense, sensing, whichIs what, a perimeter otherwise perfect,Cut. To appraise contrast. Glacier,Glacier alone, glacier in its valley.To accustom, to feel it familiar.The glacier scratching
Its valley. The glacier letting milky waterActive between poplar, glinting, activeLeaves, each leaf gives dull lightThrough this window, scoured,In this light, scratched, each scratchAppearing. Thready. Prismatic. [End Page 125]
Nabil Kashyap lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His poems and essays have appeared in Seneca Review, Versal, Actually People and elsewhere. "Graze" owes something to the John Cutler Papers recently released by the National Archives and to an extraordinary and very long lecture on Keats given in McCarthy, Alaska.