Via Negativa

Edward Sambrano III

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,

Synecdoche, mechanical,

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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