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Whatnots by Benjamin Buchholz
Recital by Donia Carey

Art by Alice EgoyanTriptych

Folding herself to sleep in three panels, knees to chest and over them the head tucked, an egg, blanketed thickly so that it becomes difficult to breathe, to hear anything other than the breath and eventually also the heart, like reversing birth, arms and extremities in, the lungs filling with fluid again, that first spanked cry, the brain aware of speaking but not of language, the mother’s voice, the mother’s pulse, the mother’s warmth, these signs of slumber condense into dream for the girl that night before she dies.

Unaware, as most, of the fascination mortals take in closing themselves toward death, of dancing along it, tempting it and thus feeling more alive, she enacts it here, reaching back toward birth, fascination foreshadowing death as preparation for death, as design.

Orgasm, hang-gliding, Russian-roulette, the feel of the Mustang throttling at the stoplight while nearby a souped-up Pinto whinnies, cigarettes and liquor, slasher movies, meditation, the collapse at the end of a marathon and love, all these things hearken toward death, toward unbecoming us, maybe letting us look beyond it or imagine; but not know.

Imagine what? What is it, curled beneath the comforter sucking your thumb, that attracts? What light do we moth around, tell me mortal, yearning for immortal, what are we to love death so dearly?

She dies, that fetal only suffocation under her blankets the experience of wanting to come near to it and know it before it happens she has had, no other out of body, for the six-year old lives in body, runs with body, breathes with body, screams with body, demands with body, draws chalk faces on brick walls with a body first learning to replace itself with symbol.

And so, does she think about it at all that instant when the water-bottle spins on the road, running in control of the maker’s made, a muscle started, musical, twitch-fast, into the road where the Pakistani semi driver smiles from his cab, having rewarded her for that wave and the twist of toe, febrile and gentle, bashful, perhaps she looked like his own daughter back in the hillside, the bottle spins, clear, the cool clean water purified in a silver plant, reverse osmosis, she bends, plucks it from the roadway when the road fills behind her with noise, another truck inbound rolls her beneath the wheel, and she folds like an acrobat up above the wire, flat, gasping, her own crunch loud in the sigh and engine of arching toward her god.

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last update: November 19, 2008