24 April 2009

Donna Stonecipher

[from Donna Stonecipher's The Cosmopolitan, Coffee House, 2008]

Inlay 12 (Owen Jones)

She said, Why are there so many things I do know and wish I didn't, and so many things I don't know and wish I did? The only thing I do know and am glad I do is that I don't know much of anything. On her bookshelf: volumes of Hokusai, Piranesi, Otto Wagner

From capital to province, and from province to capital, capital was moved provincially. The city on the edge of the volcano, the minaret in the microscope. In my search for the Northwest Passage -- I did not discover the Hudson, I invented it. And then reinvented it --

According to the book he was reading by the side of the hotel pool, the first known writing was lists: how much grain was delivered to the palace, how many heads of cattle were received on this or that holy day. Glow-in-the-dark globes in a darkened palazzo --

One loved; one did not love; goods changed hands. She was looking for the seed pearl dropped off the scale in the middle of the vast outdoor market. At the airport, he reached into his bag for his cyanometer -- which of fifty different kinds of blue was this particular sky?

And isn't nowhere, after all, also an elsewhere? On her bookshelf: volumes of Audubon, Albert Bierstadt, Edward Curtis -- dead birds of paradise, invented mountains, a disappearing culture he believed he alone would make appear and disappear -- oh the sublime.

"Proposition 5: Construction should be decorated. Decoration
should never be purposely constructed"

He was told she was busy in the next room, separating form from content. The dazzling embezzler had gone too far, the puzzled Lipizzaner shied from the proffered sugar. Somone had left the newspaper open to the headline, "Sahara once lush and populated."

Goethe's color theory was on her bookshelf. She had visited his hosue in Weimar, where each room was painted a different color: yellow, red, orange, pink, and his melancholy blue-green study. It was like a violet in formaldehyde, a fallen starling in an airtight jar --

And to this day you find it hard to believe that there are countries in which people eat fruit you've never seen. Behold the blood arriving blue back at the heart after its grand tour of the body. A plaster Taj Mahal atop the bureau, reflected in the mirror expanding behind --

At the origin of every thing is commerce. One loved; one did not love; goods changed hands. Even at the origin of love. With its little store-bought wings. At the airport, the stars finally arrived: the pilot and his flight attendants -- unspeakably glamorous.

The Cosmopolitan

1 comment:

  1. these are just wonderful.

    By the way, my "word verification"
    (below) is "ingiver." That's a cross between an Indian Giver and
    and someone who gifts herself from within? Or the opposite of give out is to give in...and I'm an ingiver. for sure.