Occasionally Placing Your Hands Where Others’ Feet Have Reached


When you climb the pool’s ladder to the tongue-shaped tower
you think you see the whole complicated thing, blue and white
and brown and white, that overpowering seduction to arrange

something singular, complete, you are an arbitrator of composite
compromise. Someone below you snaps their gum. A rhythm.
A wave. Firsthand in hieroglyphs, basic psychosomatic miscodings

made sacred, vestigial like this raised central dais. Say hello
to those on the rungs above you, below. They say the water is soft
when you’re inside it and its sweetness may drive you crazy.

When you’re inside it, re: the complex throb of mythopoeic
narrative unfolding, all the putative variants and versions—
Begin with a beginning: a certain configuration of light, paleo

or meso, spears and lean-tos, phytotoxic instruments, then
oat-intensive breakfasts, and so on. The pilot-light blue sky
above you. A row of little pink toes lining the pool’s lip.

Beyond this: deck chairs, a hot black parking lot, the brittle
field at the limit of an industrial park. From overhead it’s more
real than anything, the implacable telos of some enormous

now ascending rung after rung laced with wet Safe-T felt.
From overhead the shadows’ lengths make sense, the future
fumbling forward, foreign matter, an adulterous Holiday Inn interlude,

mealy and monochromatic carpet leading to radiation treatment
every Tuesday. Say hello to the senescent husk of human agency,
an addiction to airplane glue, a series of self-centered acceptance

techniques facilitated via paper puppets, polystyrene props.
Say no, there is no known sum. No scaffold. Wind. Radio. Epitatic
splashing. A child poolside begins to cry. A single sound.

A second or two threatening to slip into something you can’t
quite place. No map with all its arrows aiming in. No, don’t look
down. The legs above you are so ordinary, capable, beautiful.
Sources: Oblivion and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

ERIC ANDERSON was born in Richmond, Virginia. His work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Black Warrior Review, Columbia Poetry Review, The Journal and elsewhere. He is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

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