Neither like the small sharp sound
Of a cat meowing at your feet,
Nor the television’s static
Humming in the background, the words
You once whispered to yourself at night,
At your desk, are insets jeweled
Ambiguously between — systematic,
Mannerism — forming neither
A discernment inching toward
Some miraculous truth greater
Than the sum of its parts, nor a sign
Of an autonomy subordinated
By the cruel slap of language. The cat
Didn’t continue meowing,
Nor did the inattentive mind
Forget to desensitize itself
To minor annoyances —
It tuned it all out.
You feel ungrateful,
Attempting always to approach
The divine by negation, watching
Helplessly each moment slip
Into the realm of history,
Into another set of mere facts,
Those words neither anchoring
Forgotten there, nor maintaining
Their intensity in memory.
In the new year, you travel
Across the country to a desolate room.
Every object you unpack from a suitcase —
A book, a small lamp — demands its name.
When you repeat a familiar sequence
Of words in your lonely privacy, their form
Provides a dull, necessary comfort, neither
The crying out of a long-dead pet nor
An old television’s homely, vacant noise.
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