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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jill Rapaport: Dunbar (after a thought of Apollinaire’s)

It was published in Brooklyn Review No. 16 (a publication of Brooklyn College, City University of New York). Don't try to discover who Dunbar was, or what was the thought of Apollinaire (probably the inspiring thought is from Apollinaire's Collines - as you probably know, from Ginsberg on, all American poets comment exactly these verses:Il vient un temps pour la souffrance
Il vient un temps pour la bonté
Jeunesse adieu voici le temps
Où l'on connaîtra l'avenir
Sans mourir de connaissance)
Rather just enjoy reading the poem of Jill. It has simplicity and it has complexity; because Jill Rapaport lives in the same universe that we live in; only she has a special alphabet to read this universe and to express it; her alphabet has other symbols than ours; her symbols come from a deep culture - she lives what we live, happiness and loneliness, joy and despair, enthusiasm and resignation, and so on. Only among these you'll find her books: by Apollinaire, and Proust, and Ginsberg, and Capote... Among her facts of life there are facts from her authors, and their ideas, and their phrases. I discovered the beauty of the style of Truman Capote through her.

In a flashing sky, Dunbar took my hand.
He knew me from Italy.
We had both read Kidnapped relatively late.

He appreciated my fingers and the way they cut the air.
One identity got both of us by.
We shared one memory and had less to regret.

Alone in a room, I looked out at gray lands.
We both smelled snow, from distant poles.
Dunbar came home at five, with a blue nose.

He said we had to come up with the rent,
I signaled fine with me, glad he was making the decisions.
I put him to sleep on the sofa, in a suit and tie and no socks.
I loved what I pitied, and I pitied Dunbar, as mothers would pity their kids if their kids were born grown up.
Though maybe mother did pity their kids and we didn’t know about it, and that was why they let their kids live.

Dunbar woke dressed and went to work in the darkness.
When he left my antlers drooped and bumped under my chin.
I moved through the rooms, sitting in different positions to become smaller and more
Dunbar came home at noon with a quarter of milk.

When he left again the afternoon grew shorter.
Morning was yellow with blue forget-me-nots. Nights were ringed by hills in which dread lurked, a huge misshapen troll with a bag on his head.

Some nights, I went out without Dunbar’s knowing it; the stars dimmed and hummed.
I believed the night sky was my doing, with no one around to talk me out of inflated beliefs.
Unlit roads led to glittering towns scattered over the countryside.
I got to see into second-floor windows, towers protecting the sea, the stalk of a giant clamshell.

I drank coffee in train stations
and then, with bright eyes and a long ringed tail, went home to the house in time to wake up Dunbar.

He never discovered the prowlings, which became more important than if he had.
One morning in winter, dawn became too faint to light my way home.
I got lost, arrived, woke him late, and he decided to stay home.

That day, with loneliness gone, I watched him sleep and I fretted.
I could not move freely. Day seemed like night and my system was disturbed.
Evening came and he was too tired to make dinner and I didn’t know how.

We rested next to each other, without enough room.
I was too sleepy to go out, too nervous to sleep.
He elbowed my shoulder and my knee hit his chin during thye course of a long, hard night.

From that point on we were off track for months, leading to the imbalance of spring and the undoing of summer, which we couldn’t enjoy, feeling we had sacrificed our right to it by having altered the order of sleeping and waking, which, like dreams, had protected us from who we were.

(Jill Rapaport)



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