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  • Ascension, and: Break, and: Lowered Expectations, and: Presence, and: Rationalization, and: Massive Perturber, and: Tend
  • F. J. Bergmann (bio)


There's a bone in the throat that breakswhen you're strangled. That's how theycan tell when someone's murderedinstead of just dead. Dead is easy:no pulse. Not too subtle. You can diefrom silly things. The poet RainerMaria Rilke died from being prickedby a rose thorn. Like Sleeping Beauty,sort of. Except permanent. And thenyou go up and sign in for the wings—and the harp, if that's what you want. [End Page 125]


from Yellow, Kelli Hoppmann, oil on panel, 2014

She wished it were summer always; not the kindof summer where the air was like breathing a blanket,but where the days always pointed north (dark pinesaround the lake whose thermocline descendedinto black ice; a cabin full of fat spiders and an absenceof flies). Bright birds flickered through leafy shadowslike small hallucinations, specks of floating colorwinking in and out of sight: bluebirds, goldfinches,indigo buntings. Ribbon-trimmed orange and yellowcushions, soft as feathers, sat on the lawn furniture.All the children believed in giant fish that nibbledtoes, strangling weeds, and drowned swimmersat the bottom of the lake. Beer and cigarettes were stilladult mysteries. This was before she had breasts,when she was learning to fly, an opportunistic feederflitting from insect to seed. Rising from dawn mist,the dock was a magnetic needle luring her into coldwater before the grown-ups woke. She would leap,suspended for what seemed like forever abovea silver mirror about to be broken. [End Page 126]

Lowered Expectations

You put in a garden every year,but things inevitably go wrong:forgetting to water, the seedssomehow defective, the plantsunsuitable for the zone,or possibly for the planet.Eventually winter comes.All doomed to failure in the end.Even the resurrection lilies—"naked ladies," my grand mothercalled them—don't last forever.

It's weird to finally have a jobyou like: a career. Somethingyou can keep doing for the restof your life, as long as your handsand eyes work. And the Internet,of course. Weird to thinkof how fleeting earlier positionsobviously were, in retrospect—you might as well have once beena porn star, now staring downat the ruins of your body.

Politics is nothing more thanapplied history, if you look at itright—and history is really scary.Your income is shrinking,but everything else is growing(except that your tomatoes werediseased the last three years).Nobody votes in their best interestsanymore—certainly not in yours.The future is too far to drive,but the end is coming nearer. [End Page 127]


Sometimes I almost have to believethere's another entity—at least one other—nestled inside me, or next to whatever is me,within my skin. Whatever that being or mind,parasite or lost twin, may be has no languageexcept color and music. How else to explaineach time I find myself humming some songwhose lyrics serve aptly as gentle admonitionor warning directly applicable to my life?Or when, purely by accident, I dress my childand myself in matching colors for eight daysstraight, never noticing until we both undressat bedtime. Guardian or parasite, who's to say?We all have cellular material that wasn't oursto begin with, and no one knows what humanbrains would be like without those fragmentsof another life. Shadow-anima, sister-soulwho oversees but doesn't force my choices,subtle critic, where did you come from?Are you a grafted bud from evolution's tree,blooming unseen inside me? Or did you driftdown here on a cold wind from the stars? [End Page 128]


        We take our magic where we can get it, and it's often (always?) dark magic.

—Jim Daniels, "Old Blood Rising"

At some point we feel ourselves movingtoward a darker field (of course those such asourselves are speaking only metaphorically),but still believe...


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pp. 125-131
Launched on MUSE
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