CHORUS PLAYED ON A VICTROLA BY THE ETHNOGRAPHER: MUSIC

              I type

faster and faster.

 

              A girl

from high

 

              school.

I used

 

              to stumble

through          

 

              etudes at

home on

 

              the piano.

The rotation

 

              speed of

the record

 

              gradually

increasing.      

 

Faster             and—

             and faster:

 

my feet

             stamping

 

through

             grass.

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 &

 

             cousins

I/ SELF/ WOMAN IN BERLIN

1930

Children build pyramids with bricks

 

of cash in the road

 

but I am safe

 

my wages roll like the water

 

coming in

 

coming in

 

going out

 

coming in

INTERLOCUTOR: HISTORICAL

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?

 

            What flew

 

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