Fragments Pieced from a Letter in a Bottle
… as in Brueghel’s design, the surface barely perturbed,
conceding only a discreet and motionless pair of legs.
This, too, a triumph of the Old Master — a vista
drawn wider than its namesake, the canvas stretched
beyond the tension of some hollow and undergirding
principle. For old Pieter understood that containers
occupy a higher echelon than their contents,
as in the constant pressure of the bottle-cap keeping
the hiss from escaping the cola, preserving its pop.
Or that same bottle with a letter nestled in its core,
enclosing it, eliding its form, floating into the shape
of a castaway’s trope. The missive commands speculation
only because it is found in the tautness of the bottle,
delivered by the non-agency of the tide, tumbling
in its glassy contours like a Venus emerging
from the bone-white ridges of her scallop-shell.
Meaning emerges simply, like the accretion of calcium
in the heart of the mollusk — shaped around detritus,
putting into form the skittering of the body
against the chaff of that which it encounters.
Or like this: the cryptic reading of sea-foam as it splits
and swirls around some barely-there disturbance,
a pair of legs dropped abruptly from the sky.
Anurak Saelaow is a Singaporean poet and writer. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Hayden's Ferry Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Eunoia Review, and Ceriph Magazine, amongst other places. He is the author of one chapbook, Schema (The Operating System, 2015), and holds a BA in creative writing and English from Columbia University.
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