Elisa Gabbert & Kathleen Rooney
The low-rent section of the city, a high-rent sky: lots of stars but no discernible constellations. On the fire escapes: dreamers and strivers. The splendor of crowds; also, the amorality of crowds. This is how the visual cliché of the future as a source of light came about. A warm and misty quality, soft and soporific, bleeding in from the corners. If tonight, or any night, induces a moment of secular epiphany, then so be it. I am not sure discern is the right word. Red bricks tessellate the sidewalk. Delicate, the black cat on the stoop.
A horse and rider, riding away—this should say, the distance is desire. Some birds circling above the velvet lawns. Not one atom out of place. A barbed-wire fence can’t exist in this space because it’s pre-1860. If you’ve read Gone with the Wind, then you understand loss and how it feels to be star-crossed. This, too, is a romance, with elements of adventure. A woman wears a locket containing a photograph that captures ghostly sprits. A man keeps a lock of hair in his wallet. Unaccountable sadness washes over me. There are black ants crawling on the peonies. Nothing too threatening.
A broken bell hanging in a broken belfry in a broken land. A man should be standing with his thumbs in his belt loops. An abating tempest slinks off toward the horizon. These things do not have equal weight, but how could it be otherwise? The eye abhors empty spaces, but not the mind. A flash of red—call it vermilion—should tint the face of an apple-cheeked schoolboy beneath the cherry blossoms. He represents the man at a younger age; all children do. If he knew that adulthood consists mostly of ambiguous silence, then what? The abstract fragility of human life, the more concrete fragility of a chickadee in the birdbath. These things don’t interest me.
ELISA GABBERT is the author of The Self Unstable (Black Ocean, 2013) and The French Exit (Birds, LLC, 2010), as well as several collaborative works co-written with Kathleen Rooney, most recently the chapbook The Kind of Beauty that Has Nowhere to Go (Hyacinth Girl Press). Follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.
KATHLEEN ROONEY is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Her latest book is the novel in poems Robinson Alone (Gold Wake, 2012) and her debut novel O, Democracy! is forthcoming from Fifth Star Press in April 2014. She lives in Chicago. Her latest chapbook with Elisa Gabbert is The Kind of Beauty that has Nowhere to Go (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013).