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  • Resonance, and: Night Sky
  • Richard Jackson (bio)


The hieroglyphics of sunset written on the bay’s water: your sad eyes the moon has lit its little fires inside of. The wind untangling itself from streetlights and trees: your voice hollowed out by a loneliness I can’t name. The heat lightning hesitating in the dark corridors of the night: the meanings for your love that flicker like a worn neon bulb. More and more these things shimmer on the spider’s web of despair. Resonance is what the scientists call it, the heart’s quivering responding to a nightingale’s trill. It’s the way two molecules line up the exact same way, or how two split beams of a light echo each other’s movements no matter what the other encounters. Resonance. A far train sounds, a hunter’s echo fills the forest, and I shudder to think of a life without you. The wake of a long-gone boat squints along the shore and my love starts to ache like a phantom limb. The screen here is filled with tiny worlds of water— it’s like looking through the thousand eyes of a fly at a world where we can be everywhere at once. It doesn’t matter what seems to be only here. In Prague you can see Albrecht Durer’s Feast of the Rose Garlands that’s missing the fly he painted on the virgin’s lap some hack covered over in restoration. In this way we understand how important it is to love every lost detail—the phone numbers, gloves, scarves, checkbooks, flowers, loves, glasses, stories, earrings, keys, the stones we walk on that echo an age we have forgotten, the language you invent as you sleep, your words that ignite the stars, your words that rise like birds from the trees. What is it that you talk to in words that leave their shapes like receding waves? Resonance: the way sounds echo among interrelated counters in the head. I heard once [End Page 119] of fishermen who could hear the low rumbling sounds from the hollowed heads of croaker, hardhead, fish you have to answer just to relieve your own loneliness. It’s the same way with seers who talk to stones. Because every word we say means how alone we are. Maybe our memories are useless, maybe our words won’t save us. In Baghdad, Shiite militia drill holes in the heads of Sunnis to make them talk. I did not want to have to say that but it’s a matter of resonance, one thing leading to another the way a hang glider catches thermals that keep rising, surrounded by hawks on the one hand, by vultures on the other. Now the heat lightning has stopped. The wind rests its head on a branch. I don’t know what else to tell you. The cicadas’ feet are stirring to song. Maybe resonance is the texture of feeling, the depth of a look that is something like the shadows stars cast on the sky. I am imagining what you’ll say, words like clouds avalanching on top of each other, these little details, a glass of stout that froths over, the wine stain on your lips, until one day, all of a sudden it is today, now, and you turn to me, and speak without talking, meanings that rise like steam after rain, a touch like a cool cloth on the head of a dying man.

Night Sky

Can you believe what the eloquence of these asteroids tells us? that we are thrown through space from one explosion to another? How amazing any love has endured! In spite of the fact that so many tendrils of hope wither in the sun, in spite of the way the flower now seems to feed on the bees, that the lake seems to shackle the sky, that the roots pull down the tree, in spite of the fact [End Page 120] that the clouds drag the earth toward some new final solution. It doesn’t matter where. There’s a whole alphabet of hate, a syntax of torture we can hardly understand. Petrified promises take...


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pp. 119-121
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