You are standing at an intersection: what used to be called a crossroads. One way is gravel and one way is sealed. North is whichever way you’re facing. There is no right answer. The sun gets behind you and pushes. What would your 38,000-word vocabulary say about that? Down that road is a poem. Down any road is a poem. But when you walk towards it with your muddy boots it becomes a story. The plot and characters function in the same way but you take more steps to reach the end. The story is a series of interruptions. Narrativity is the way we make sense of unrelated series’ of inconsequential events. Where is the end? This is not something you should be asking yet. You should be looking into all the blind windows to see if you recognise – who said there were windows? – you should be looking – into the trees to see if you recognise – you used to – know – all the names – now they wear name badges and your knowledge is defunct. They are like foreign students standing there in groups – growing roots – they have their real name which they assume no one can say – and a fake name – Shirley – Robert – Beech – Pine – to long for – what is English responsible for? In Japanese there’s a word for looking worse after a haircut – in Norwegian there’s a word for the euphoric feeling of falling in love – and there’s a Tibetan word for giving an answer to an unrelated question – you are standing at the crossroads with the poem hanging – off your every word – tugging – at your sleeve – this way – this way – there is a German word for the feeling of being alone in the woods – the poem has abandoned you – are you lost?
Alone in the Woods
1 February 2014