On Peekaboo and the Pathetic Fallacy

—or breathing’s disappearance qua
California, ether

of eucalyptus, hills like pelt

spread over muscle, bruised succulents.

Black ocean lapping, lapping, and erosion

throws itself at the freeway, giddy mud

penned in, restraining wire. Who is the cliff

that can’t hold on, that slides? Contours

self-transfiguring, traffic blocked. "The only constant

is impermanence." "Get home safe!"

You and me—these precincts

bearded with seaweed—your body.

Igneous, milky. Halo flash on windshields at sunset, scary vestiges

of heaven, cop’s mirrored glasses. So

we lived inside this tang. "Object constancy"

means the infant believing past the blanket, bougainvillea

uncancelled by the fog. And liquefaction, faults

and rupture: natural. But it hurt, the seized-up

lung—

Contributor

Frances Richard

Frances Richard is nonfiction editor of the literary journal Fence; a member of the editorial team at the art and culture magazine Cabinet; and a frequent contributor to Artforum. Her first book of poems, See Through, is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2003. She teaches at Barnard College, and lives in Brooklyn.

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