A poem by D. S. Marriott

Eskimo (after Wiley)

And once again this wedge is my
hypothesis, for what is denied isn’t
a true beginning, and what you
see below isn’t an answer,
or a final step, but truth’s living
flesh being hacked to pieces.
But then that’s poetry’s falsehood.

And at the end of these words
I will ask you endless questions
for hours and hours on end
taking turns to write or yell
accusations, and I will tell you
the proof of what happened,
and with this confession
you will be unable to contradict
or resist me, or turn back from the rim
of remembrance, and thus return to the dim
constellations of memory.

And you will forget what you did,
and I will take you to
the grey zones where all the bones are buried.

A hunger should be cold
cut with shards of catastrophe.
A tsunami that simply refuses to die where bush fires
go out, and tidal waves recede,
waiting for the rescuers to arrive. It’s the end of virtue;
a slag-heap of the endlessly perishable,
a lake where thought itself, neither slough nor swale,
drags us down into darkness.

Because every ‘might’ve’ should be hard, relentless,
as indifferent to the surrender that wants no part
as to the desire that asks for it
for they are both the same
I will show you what happened
the night before your innocence,
when what might have been
was just one of those days when truth is forfeit,
and what happens is itself already damaged,
and it’s hard to decide whether the most guilty
is the one who runs away,
or the one who spends every day 
in thrall to the sanctuary of forgiveness
because he’s already erased all traces?

Go on then go on then, try me if ya name’s man.
And once again truth is held up as a threat,
and I will look at you
during a pause in the interrogation,
and soon it will be your turn again, and there will be
no restraint in the cells when the little one wanders away
and black as death the conquest.
And I will hear your screams again,
and during the beatings
the words ‘I wasn’t there, I wasn’t there’
will return like skiffs already covered over by banks of chromatic rain
in a vast sea of heartlessness—
and your lips will seek another hearing,
and you will listen to the tapes silent, but horrified.
And the wish not to be pagan,
head bowed, wrecked by humiliation,
sent scuttling back to the island
and to the waters that should never
have been stepped in, and the body
which all year long has been the source of the sun’s empty interrogation,
and you will admit to the dead no sacrifice.

And I will ask you once again,
and you will look at me and see
my pupils burning with sunlight and fire,
and your eyes looking at me will see
why sacrifice of the dead is the only thing that matters
even though all that will be saved are dungheaps.
And all of us blinded as we head back to the blue,
the ice-fall and snows,
the avalanche and glaciers that bury you also.

Man knows he will never escape
and so walks on the beach anonymous: was this the intricate, blank sun?
Will the guards look after me, bring me lunch, as I am,
or are they just waiting to leave again? The bars
are overflowing and dangerous, each incident must be met with a chill
forbearance in the noonday sun, then massaged
as flaccid, dingy outlines net each pilgrim.
Only then does everything pass down to extinction
down there, as each journey opens with hope, and thought
enters the great, carnal round of beginning, sun-blinded,
its naming programmed in neon, your confession an epic
that takes in the whole world, now, but a homecoming,
a reunion, with no one to sing the story or knit its arrival.
And even the oracle rages for its lack of vision
to bet on the thing that never happens but always will.

Slowly it dawns, in the clubs and lobbies.
The sun is fate. The clue lies in how it takes shape in the kiosks
the glare of immortality, and none the wiser for seeing it.
And the thought that life is but a shadow
falls like guano across the most famous landmark on the island,
but it was only the body of a dog petrified once more
tales of what happens, and the fear of what fails to etched into our travels.

The police take up their places. Near but far and always waiting
to explore every inch of the island, looking for temporary truths amid the locals,
finally all those inebriated with thoughts of death & glory.
And a new song emerges from all the rapturous things on earth,
the bars, the cafes, the grey stucco houses and storefronts
the sanious delirious bruise of an island, and all the waves
versions of waves flattened under the sea’s immense weight.
The tides taking us farther and farther out,
where we flounder, lost in what we will & don’t know, that no sea dispels.

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