Past Tense

 

Another continent is found, which brings us to eight now.

 

We long for one walkable stretch, to reach one another.

 

The abandoned yacht has sunk further into the muck

 

of the once-Viking, once-Roman, once-

 

Brythonic, once once once once once once once once

 

once nonriver ghostly forest

 

once nonhuman nonlanguage ooze

 

once nonwhole inversion

 

of anything we might have ever known,

 

present-day river Ouse.

 

The abandoned yacht has sunk, or the water

 

has risen, rolling down from the ‘wild’ moors,

 

a wholly invented landscape, mind you,

 

dreamed up in smoke and mud.

 

Why do our maps mark forests that aren’t there?

 

The GIF in response depicts a long-haired child,

 

eating a peeled onion, raw and whole.

 

It’s understandable, you know, our quickness

 

to judgement, our minute calibration

 

of the possible, our settling for, our settling in,

 

the rack we made to hold our knives, and our resolve

 

to sweat the onion slowly, to bring its layers together

 

and let the flavours right down, sinking into sweet alchemy

 

down, down, down, down into heat

 

back to when our hands were wholly fused

 

to each other, ready to spark,

 

which was not all that long ago

 

but also unfathomably past

 

tense so I’m not sure what conditional phrase

 

to set up and how to get it running

 

on my tongue and

 

out from my mouth

 

and still breathe in








[Kimberly Campanello's most recent projects are MOTHERBABYHOME, a 796-page poetry-object and reader’s edition book (2019), and sorry that you were not moved (2022), an interactive digital poetry publication produced in collaboration with Christodoulos Makris and Fallow Media. She is a Markievicz Award co-recipient and has been awarded residencies at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, The Studios of Key West, and RAMDOM in Italy. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Leeds.]


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