Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joan Harvey, “Sound of Machinery”

Joan Harvey

The Sound of Machinery Stopping

Her name is Delia.  She is 43, part Chippewa, on her way to an ex-lover’s cabin.  Not strong enough for the journey really.  She plays piano, has been a social person, had had a beautiful daughter who died.  Is a past tense.  Delia waits for what will come through.

A strange biting in her hands.  A noose over her tongue.  The cabin where she is headed is a site of guilt.  Years before Delia had betrayed its owner with another man. 

A mark that speaks of death links her to all others afflicted.  In the world of the body new tracings, new tracks of purple and red, holes into the skin, difficulties breathing.  No longer can Delia take this landscape of the self for granted.   Something else has come to grow there. 

The illness which comes out of her or is joined to her transfigures, so she doesn’t know what is her, what is this other that remakes her body, redefines her energy fields?

On the other hand, Delia fits the cabin perfectly.  Couchwise, but also fragrantly.  Mingled odors of must, decay, old sunshine, blend and suit perfectly.

Delia loses one red shoe.  And wonders what was she doing wearing such bright sneakers?

Rodents overrun the place, steal her food, leave their shit.  Delia thinks to trap them, put them in a bag and place them in the freezer.  In case of famine. 

A mountain made of grayness and light.

Each morning Delia looks not for solace, but for signs.  The phone rings – a wrong number.  Delia is alone in a room.   Her heart may or may not beat in the right place.  The refrigerator is due for a cleaning.  For lunch, toffee and broccoli.

Everything now comes in waves in differing forms - sometimes just sensation.  Occasionally Delia lets herself open, falling into something deep and regular, great expansiveness.  If only this could be maintained.

Degeneration into porno fantasies, her in the middle.  Two men, not altogether straight.  Hours and hours.  And wants from the past – some child pleasure thing.   It makes sense to just let go.  Piling up the pillows, the head that cannot support itself.  Weakness.  As soon as she allows herself sleep, she cannot. 

Breathe against anguish, against anxiety, breathe into the warmth where she shuts herself.

More, not to be said or imagined, but disgorged.  The important thing is to make few plans and leave herself plenty of time.  Work on the reassurance technique.  Rid herself of the old nerve boxes.  Don't get lazy, but be understanding.  Don't waste time on advice. 

Delia wants to lose her identity, bury it in the mud by the side of a sleep river, but as she covers it, Delia worries that it will be stolen and then she’ll have nothing.  Delia digs it up again and carries it muddily on.

There is a pillow she pretends to talk to, but basically Delia thinks Delia is insane.  Delia should be locked up.  She can't bear this thought.  She’ll die or scream.  The screams have holes in them where moths and bugs fly through.  Her teeth possibly rotting.  And the ex-boyfriend of the cabin and his teeth.  If he were here.  Delia sits up in her sleep and says "Cherries, strawberries, and limes." 

The mice are involved.  When each drama is overturned, the noise of scurrying underneath. The articulation of each phrase is somehow unpleasant.  She wishes for a return to muffles. 

Washing her white night dress.

Delia is baffled, filled with pain sent down.

Wild geese hit the sky.

Seeds of death carried inside like her eggs.

Little hooks under the blood.

Press on past.  Precipice.  Until the only thing.

Joan Harvey’s fiction, poems, and translations have appeared in numerous journals including recently Web Conjunctions, Drunken Boat, Smokelong Quarterly, Otoliths, and Danse Macabre.  She thinks disappearance can be a practice, a fantasy, a necessity, or an art.
RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture,, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume 5 (2011): Disappearance

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