Undersongs

1
How to start, what do I want to say in these words? And once started how to end? Start with a question. The question leads to a second question. And then? The void I need to fill. The void that enters me and fills me with words. You, the anonymous.

2
You show yourself only by masking yourself. In you my power becomes my powerlessness and my end my beginning.

3
Can I remember a time before you? Before you supplanted me I supplanted you, is that much clear? You came into my clearing and toppled me, and this toppling is your truth for me even as I grow.

4
In you my end unfurls and blooms like a great flower of death that grows and smothers as it grows. In you my end grows into the light and my death is born over and over.

5
This tedium that washes up and over my life like a slow grey tide. Only to pull me out and apart, suddenly. Are you ebb or flow?

6
I turn to look at you and you disappear like smoke. I speak your name and you recede through all names like a reflection in a hall of mirrors.

7
Out of the fertile valley every day to the plain of bones. Till I can neither look back nor ahead. Some change is needed but your words are out of reach.

8
You pulled me back out of the hole and it was like recovering from an illness or waking from a long sleep.

9
You’re the problem I didn’t know I had: the milestone turned into a millstone.

10
I address and betray you in the same breath. I lie awake and listen, since even sleep is a betrayal.

11
I can only speak by damming up your currents: break down the dams.

12
You’re closer than the vein in my neck, farther than my most general idea.

13
I fall back into the hole as into a tiger trap. But you are the tiger.

14
Some days you only ask me questions; questions I can only answer with questions.

15
I talk to you, shape and misshape your words, become the one who doesn’t know you. Suddenly frightened by the strangeness of my words, like a child who lies in bed at night, afraid of might move towards him from the shadows. Am I getting older or younger? What are you teaching, or unteaching?

16
The only way open was to talk to you: the you I’m always losing. My only way out of the hole was to talk myself into a new, wider loss.

17
I cut you down to size, make sense of you. I shape you, think I master you. These very words are guilty.

18
You disorient me, but what do I know? I speak, I shape and scatter you like clouds in the wind, look around stupidly and wonder what I’ve said, what I’ve done.

19
You take me to where I wasn’t, where I’m not and where I won’t be.

20
I talk to you, turn away and back, admit I can’t dispense with you. I ask if you can dispense with me and laughter rises from mouths, mountains, trees and lakes.

21
It’s in the failure of my words that you reveal yourself – but that’s wrong. It’s in the failure to name and the failure to name the failure to name that you reveal yourself. Wrong again. I retreat into my own retreat and have to laugh; you unsay yourself from inside yourself, from inside me.

22
You’re the water that flows out of itself, away from itself. Where’s your spring, where’s mine? You flow into me, away from me.

23
I fell back in the hole. It got deeper and wider, I could hardly see the light. I looked down and you closed up.

24
I name you ‘you’ and am instantly led astray, already guilty. I backtrack from my naming and my retreat itself leads me astray. Are you behind me or ahead of me? I deny you, pretend it never happened, but it’s too late, there’s no I without you. As a last resort I imagine I fall silent and let you name me. Yet even having nothing to defend my defences remain.

25
I fall back in the hole, the deepest this time. This time I look up and can barely see the light. The end is here, the endless end. Nothing helps, not even you, especially you, since you were the first cause of my falling. And as I prepare to sink down you pull me up, the highest this time.

26
I ask you to speak to me, to give me a new voice. You tell me my question is itself a voice and my speech an interruption.

27
I kept getting delayed, as in a dream, and my delay became its own arrival to you.

28
I address you, I want to join your spoken silence, your endless speech. You open a road to yourself through my words, changing me into no one.

29
I look for you and realise I can’t even look for you. Yet I sense you everywhere: invisible shadow.

30
I talk and am judged by you in my words, for which I’m responsible and which elude me. Who speaks, from where?

31
I interrupted you, fell in love with my own voice, grew impatient, listened for you and heard nothing. I grew patient in my impatience, you were always here already.

32
There’s no rite to master you. I looked for you and lost you. You looked at me and freed me from myself.

33
You’re the forbidden, what must not be seen. Having turned to look I cannot live not looking back. By looking I lose you and lose myself, and losing myself becomes my life.

34
You were the welcome trap, what they used to call the devil, and my rescuer, who pulled me out of my trap, what they used to call the saviour. To renounce you, my failure, would be the ultimate failure, what they used to call pride.

35
I talk to push myself out on the undertow of my words; to leave an emptiness for you to fill. You disappear and return as what has disappeared. To know you is to lose the possibility of emerging from you.

36
I lose you just as I lose myself, because I want you beyond the limits of my words. I want to free myself from you, withdraw from you, but into what?

37
I started dying when I started speaking. I separated myself from you even as your words entered me, I’m already guilty of you. From time to time your absence is given to me as presence, your presence as absence.

38
You’re my death and my chance to live. I can’t go back to a time before you, or forward to a time after you. You’re my endless end, my beginningless beginning.

39
My words die out in the desert of your ears. They start dying as I speak them. Are they a kind of sacrifice? Do they sacrifice me to you? As if my words try to teach me how to die as I speak them. Or as if death tries to speak itself in me.

40
Every step I take is in you, my desert, my death. My mouth is full of death, I breathe it in and out.