Perhaps there was a stressor, who can say? | One day, he left the port city, where he had lived all his life, and moved to another city | In a state of fugue | he forgot his old job, his wife and children, his circle of friends, and wandered | He hadn’t planned this trip, he knew it was a train, he knew it was a journey, but | he couldn’t remember a departure, and | couldn’t figure out | which of the destinations belonged to him | There were further journeys, other cities | Years | passed? | In the city in which he now lived, he found work for which he appeared to have a certain aptitude | He rented a flat, began to make friends | He was a foreigner there, it was a landlocked country | Often, he found himself feeling slightly aslant of everything else, as if he wasn’t quite synchronised with his surroundings, including the people in whose company he passed the time | The continent of all the days spread around him | The past was a luminous haze, like looking at the sun through thick mist | His lack of harmonisation with things wasn’t unpleasant to him, it made his life seem to flow more slowly on occasion, and to take on the muzzy, sketchy quality of waking from a dream | Holding a tin can or a hose, he would find himself staring at these items, unable quite to remember what they were or why they were | what they were / He met a girl and fell in love, and they were married | She said she liked his gentleness, she loved the way he was so spaced out sometimes, it made her laugh | They didn’t have much money, but neither of them minded much | He felt he was a very lucky person | The future grew before him, thick and luxuriant like a forest | Sometimes, when he woke up, he thought he heard the sound of the sea

His life had become a series of upheavals | He remembered reading somewhere about a country at war, and how soldiers on the outskirts of a precious city had dug in against invaders and fought and tried to hold their lines / in a cemetery | That detail had struck him very much | He thought about how a cemetery, a place devoted to calm and order and to a sense of the sacred and of ancestral respect / with the changing circumstances of war / had become a place of battle || At times he felt very sad, and his days became events of almost constant revision, of collapsing perspectives and the struggle with exigence | His interior city shed monuments and landmarks | He fell out of love and yet, somehow, continued to feel love… / He wondered if he’d ever known his own life at all, or whether for years it had surrounded him like a kind of bland, untested mystery, or a form of complacent simulation? He feared for the future but prepared to dig in

 


from Semapolis | City of Signs
(series of poems, unfinished, 2012–present)
(this poem, June 2012)

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