I Am Become the News of the Day
Imagine a dancer spinning, spinning,
until the white chalk at her burning feet
spools itself into a thread and coils out
from her throat like the snaked coils
of a sun-fired pot in which a cobra
might or might not be sleeping--
Now say that the chalk was newsprint;
the coils, words, black ink spilled
in thin lines and banner fonts
along a plane reaching corner to corner,
bleeding almost off the edge,
which is to say, the world--
And those words, spiraling out
by centrifugal force, are not words only,
but time; and not any time, but now:
this moment, this, this, this, spooling
fast as a reporter can file
her version of the story or
the dancer can spot and pull her body
around and around and around--
And if you could still a single instant
from this motion, capture it unblurred
so that even some of the coiled-snake words--
damage, maybe, or crossroad, or even
free--were legible, if not intelligible,
wouldn’t it look like this?
With a magnifier you might read a clue
to the crossword, or the fine strands
of the dancer’s hair--
Is she not Atlas, bearing
the flattened weight of this moment’s
map, which is to say, of the world
as we know it now, and now, and now?
See: how ink and paper-whiteness
have spread like pox over her young face,
yoked as she is like an ox
to the plow of the current, or a planet
orbited by rings of water and ash--
Her lips are set, her red-rimmed eyes
look out—to what? What future
allows such burdens?
The weight of it, of paper.
Hannah Silverstein lives in Vermont. Her writing has appeared in Si Señor, The New Guard, and SWWIM Every Day.
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