Notes from a Field on Fire + Félix González-Torres– “Untitled” (billboard of an empty bed), 1991 + Multiclausal Exercises in Translation
Notes from a Field on Fire
The grasses the grasses the grasses
are everywhere now,
& none of them
native to the landscape.
Inside of my two bedroom, one bath apartment,
I am recording from the field.
The fieldnotes are as follows:
The subject ruins their hair with coconut oil in the bathtub.
The subject burns their skin in the sun in a polyurethane raft &
blisters down to their fascicles, applies silvadene for a week.
The subject cannot distinguish a boning
knife from a mezzaluna, the poor animal.
O mammal you are my love.
O lovely I am lapsing into tulips for you, into lilies.
Today, the open-air markets are growing sour from disuse.
Today, a storm falls through all of them in concert.
Wednesdays are my Fridays, someone announces,
Saturdays, my Mondays.
Corporate time shifts its weight constantly in the bottomless light,
avocado toast closing in on its imminent extinction.
My future is growing
ripe with endangerment.
The clusters of birds in my window discuss the dissolution
of their most irrelevant factions.
Condors, cranes. Between them,
the wind inserts itself–– an empty discourse.
The ocean, invariably, kisses strangers at new
altitudes, blushes in her rising heat.
The months are falling out of me & I am annually
a woman in June next to a woman in June.
I’m sorry I’m sorry,
I say matutinally to the wars.
In my dreams, I’m always pointing at the sky.
I’m always highlighting the nitrogen in the syrupy air.
Highlighting the starlings articulating a spot of oil
bleeding through the afternoon’s golden sheet.
The man in the field of my dreams
is a sopping wet man.
The boy in the field plays with the moss beetles,
coleoptera leaving bodies in fits & starts––
wing-cases & shells,
littering the clammy feculence.
Please notify the landlord that the lawn out front is dying.
I’m sorry I’m sorry. Here, take my money.
Félix González-Torres– “Untitled” (billboard of an empty bed), 1991
Now I am wondering if it’s appropriate––
the way I’ve made our moment of intimacy so public.
The weight of our two heads forming
two fabric bowls in the pillows,
almost a soup dinner arrangement on the bed.
On the bed in Manhattan, on the bed in San Antonio,
on the bed in Seoul, the divots are cold in your public absence.
The white sheets are almost blue.
If I order some fries, will you eat them here with me,
your moon body waning under the State’s milk-blue eye?
Your moon body a pile of bonbons & saltwater taffy
in their cellophane wrappers, shrinking in the corner.
It’s raining today & it’s hard to believe
that it’s possible to make love in this kind of weather,
but the grasses seem to be getting along just fine.
The world’s various waters seem to be getting along
just fine & the President prays & pays
for their poison as well. My friends are the kind
of people that would drive out to the city just
to see a billboard of an empty bed thirty years
too late, mustering up, even then, enough heartache
to cry into the tulips along the interstate.
It’s been another wild year & more people have died
than necessary, each body swimming in its own queer toxins,
in the ornamental killings of this great police state
& I’m trying to figure out, in the end,
who is going to get up & shake out the sheets.
Multiclausal Exercises in Translation
After Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Traduire les phrases suivantes en français.
- I enter a store and forage a jackfruit I won’t buy.
- I sit on a bench in the park and regard the sun.
- I speak to strangers and they speak back.
- I am still afraid of some dogs and some dogs are afraid of me.
- I don’t speak to strangers if I can avoid it.
- I sit in a plastic chair at my parents’ house and behold a flock of geese.
- I count every pill to see if my prescription will outlive my coverage.
- I stop and sit to watch the West.
- I consider HRT, but can’t imagine my face in the mirror.
- I complain and say Fuck you health insurance, I don’t need you.
- I get nervous when health insurance says Haha. Same.
- I am in debt and watch a flock of city parrots circle the sun.
- I am at a company meeting and they discuss the ghosts in the women’s bathroom.
- I say Fuck you panic attack and panic attack asks me if I’ve tried yoga.
- I identify plants for my friends and they tell me to stop.
- I pop my shoulder out of its socket and think of Pangea.
- I become a red country and cannot bear to watch myself.
- I say This one’s agapanthus and they say No, seriously, stop.
- I study German declensions and benefit from white supremacy.
- I become a particular wind––turning and turning and in love in the West.
Day Heisinger-Nixon is a poet, essayist, interpreter, and translator. Raised in an ASL-English bilingual home in Fresno, California, Day holds an MA in Deaf Studies from Gallaudet University and is an MFA candidate in creative writing: poetry at New England College. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in Apogee, Peach Mag, Boston Review, Foglifter, Gasher, and elsewhere. They are currently based in Valencia, Spain, and can be found online @__day_lily__ and at dayheisingernixon.com.