I don’t know what else to say. Really it’s the middle of the night, and I’m sobering up from too much almond liqueur, trying to persuade my body it’s not dying. But it is. At planet velocity, velocity of falling in love. She’s right next to me. And I have landscapes inside me. Did you leave these landscapes in here? Do you know that I can change the size of all these memories, just by the power of thinking?
And if tomorrow I jump off, and at the same time think the jump back, would I not hang flying above the bridge-water? Well.The poem is instructive both implicitly and explicitly – that slightly patronizing “Do you know” tone reminds us – like duh – that the mind can change, if nothing else, itself, that our memories and ideas and even experiences are plastic, reflexive and self-editing. And so the life of the mind (if not “real” life) is like lucid dreaming, and certainly poem-life is a lucid dream. But this isn’t a lecture, and Bozicevic doesn’t just tell us, she embodies and embraces that potentiality within the poem. The poem’s future, its tomorrow, hasn’t happened yet, and so hangs in quantum possibility – it’s like “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” but we don’t ever get to the end where it turns out he died (though the poet knows eventually, outside the poem, the body will die.) In the next poem in Rise in the Fall, “Death, Is All,” again we see this almost compulsive reportage of the thinking behind the text:
I cried. Show me a cypress and I’ll just go off, but I don’t what that to be it. Or some kind of poem you can never find your way out of! And sometimes
I think I nod at the true death: when from a moving train I see a house in the morning sun and it casts a shadow on the ground, and inquiry and I think “Crisp inquiry” & go on to work, perfumed of it—that’s the kind of death I’m talking about.That “I think” could have been revised out. The line could have been “it casts a shadow on the ground, crisp inquiry.” Still a good line, but the effect is different; it’s the difference between Peter Pan the movie, with seamless special effects, and Peter Pan the play, where you can see the wires catch the light when the children fly. And it’s different still, because the poet is God, and she can hide the strings if she wants to, but chooses to show them. Because she doesn’t skip that step, doesn’t hide the thinking, we are privy to the poet’s mind, how it makes things happen. It’s lovely like a see-through computer: show us the motherboard. In linguistics, there’s a term for a string of words that brings its content into being: the “performative utterance,” the classic example being “I now pronounce you man and wife.” Instead of simply describing reality, performative utterances change what they describe. Bozicevic is a master of the poem as performative utterance, language that enacts and effects its own reality. Elisa Gabbert is a regular contributor to Lemon Hound.