Dark Ground 
(For Brian Louis Pearce)



          The other people there wanted to talk about art; he didn’t. There was a glint of hysteria in his eyes. He said: It was a vast secret society, calling itself the Agapé. Its leaders authored the Christian Gospels, and circulated them for their own worldly ends. They assassinated those whose power they coveted. Montanus wanted to reform the Agapé; he was condemned at Rome, and committed suicide…

          A woman and a man sit down on a bench by a pond — to talk, earnestly. No sooner have they come to the point of their conversation, than two children commence tricycling around the bench; then a young man asks to have his picture taken. (She smiles, and photographs him.) Finally, another woman sits down beside them. So they leave, continuing their talk as they wander through the park.... She says: We should have met then; by which she means, nearly two decades before — when things would have been possible.

          —I keep looking at my notes, but not doing anything with them, I said.
           He said, Why don’t you burn them, and start from nothing?
           —Good God, no! I said.
           I watched the pebbles plunging into gelatinous water, its colour a pale olive-green.

          Whatever you may chance upon, has already existed, Tertullian wrote; whatever you have lost, returns again without fail. Nothing perishes but with a view to salvation. The whole, therefore, of this revolving order of things bears witness to the resurrection of the dead.
           Theology informs us in excess, where epigraphy instructs us in too little.
           Heads emerge from dystopian holes in the ground.

          —The naked bulb doesn’t emit any light; but across the room, light comes from another bulb hidden beneath a shade....
          I felt the necessity for some other rede, equal to the pressure of ineluctable loss.

          A shepherd and his son witnessed my friend excavating in a remote area, and pitied him and his fellow archaeologists for the penance God had imposed on them. This friend dreamt that he alighted from a bus at the same stop as a young woman playing disjointed phrases on a harmonica — phrases that became more and more frenzied. A short time later he saw her again, as she plunged down from a high building; and her body lay bleeding and lifeless on the ground.

          Someone is poised at the door, divided by thoughts of going in and of staying where he is. Willful hero, he bears an engraved bracelet to remind him of lions that were slain. But I think of the procession of poor, variegated beasts, bleached, gilded, or empurpled.
          —All my fear rises up; and it is not for him, but for you. Don’t linger in this place, dear.

          A slow accretion of memories; a darkening expanse of water. The darkening ground.

          Remembering… her face, her movements, her words that pull the music slowly after them; and the music is as modest and penetrating as a Dowland ayre or a Machaut ballade. Remembering, too, how I followed her up the stairs to a lighted room, where on a table the blue flower grew in dirt.

her voice entering
the room’s space
eases anguish and
with that ease
ipseity’s ruptured
through the break
I can attend the words
long-distance as they
glisten in darkness
forming an envelope lost
like an inset

          On the notebook’s cover a girl stands in a ballet-costume, her face covered in white make-up. Her hands gesture to the sky, an arc indicating lost and soteriological spaces. A secret society calling itself by love’s name? I keep thinking of the woman whose ecstatic utterances were nothing the churchman could challenge with argument, leading him to resort to a third type of utterance: exorcism. The woman’s followers stopped him from completing the act; yet he had won, all the same. A ring was unknowingly dropped in the dark. Beneath the night, the ground’s caked and bleached.

          Sitting down on the stone, you speak the fragments enclosed as dark within dark.

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