CHORUS PLAYED ON A VICTROLA BY THE ETHNOGRAPHER: MUSIC
faster and faster.
Still from Mother Ghosting - Serena Chopra
INTERLOCUTOR: WHAT THIS STUDY IGNORES
The study ignores coal staining the sheets
like ink as they hang out the window,
twisting in the wind down the brick wall.
Bitters swirl into a goblet in the club
where office workers dance
after filing paper all day, after their
personality waits outside like a bicycle.
This study ignores the bubble
that formed around them all
like the shell of a golden egg. And how
can one do an ethnography when
the word wraps like string
around the tissue of the intestine
in the guts of the country? I’ve stepped
on gold memorial stones in the street
where mothers & fathers &
aunts & uncles & daughters & sons &
I/ SELF/ WOMAN IN BERLIN
Children build pyramids with bricks
of cash in the road
but I am safe
my wages roll like the water
How can I not talk about what it all means—my mouth
a sewage grate that takes it all in.
Ethnographer, I’ve caught your voices
of workers tricked into debt,
into waves of it that shuffle like paper
lightly on a desk, and my mind
imprints with death camps, bones,
ashes of my love’s relatives. What can I
say, what can I
do? Think of a mother’s hands
pressed on warm cheeks?
Of families stolen from time?
Am I the I of a future,
the I who
wants to return
as a warning? How can I be?
How can I?
around the shoulders
of the workers, into the stones
in the buildings,
and flies, continues to jet
through the windows,
and erupts? I — I — I — .
return to ISSUE THREE