Laynie Browne :: from Deciduous Letters to Invisible Beloveds

Dear Diatom,

White commas on water, rectangular oblongs and exact square, composing an ancient seer in painting, glitter or were they too bright to say clearly questions, and furthermore moving?  You appear on the surface but have no weight, moving quickly.  Blinking in.  Blinking out.  Animacula infusoria.  Precise geometry, everything solid appears even more mystifying.  A wooden dock with tires along on all the edges, harboring sea life, pulled up by scientists, studied. A shed containing life preservers.  Rowboats and rowing. Oars and locks, welded arms. Dear children, we love you alive. Please wear this spindle structure, preserver of light. Across the channel the land rouses backed with what can only be evergreen centuries rising. Have you dreamt them?  In the shapes of filaments, ribbons, fans, zigzags or stars. Inhale pointed evergreen appearing dark, shadowed across water still and topped with brilliantine moving undulations. Inhalations or registers bloom.  Upwelling, moving. Belonging to no one. Everyone. Atop the surface of depths, coldness, hypothermia, thirst. Surface mud of pond, ditch, or lagoon will almost always yield. Hölderin’s Diotima. And beyond channel and behind the pointed apostrophes or tops of writing implements rises a white mist, rolls out, blankets the water.  Dear Diotima of Mantinea, fill a jar with water and mud.  Wrap in black paper allowing sunlight to fall on the surface of the water.  Brilliantine surface clipped, cupped joy, if you are ready. Into your hands anticipation, moving. Why never still?  Here the word gleam was born, and here sunder, and hear whale as large as larger than any doubt.  The tops of the water crests mobile sunning itself above the entire kelp forest sunning.



Dear Sea Angel,

The quiet is remarkable
And my desk resembles a prayer

Sat outside on the bench, pure quiet, the sound below and undulating patches of white. Remarkable to have learned to inhabit a body.  Inward faces of needle-like solitary cells came to visit of their own accord. There were too many you’s so I sifted. Came apart. Dusk marked my hands in the morning. I gave in.  Alphabets could make me weep.  To be single-hearted is this predicament of bedding.  We pull aside, bleed.  Look at a face we thought we knew, know, which parts us to marrow. You pull me closer than that.

Fanny Howe writes in the poem “Loneliness”

“It’s the manifestation of a vow never made but kept
I will go home now and forever in solitude” (Second Childhood, 15)

I read it and quietly shudder. No one else is here in the same legion of libraries.  Where I lend you my harpsichord salt fish.  To be with one divine is to be never alone, always alone, in one’s actions. A secret, especially to oneself.

Today I am writing to myself with no one at my side. Flutter with appendages resembling wings. Ghostly, flapping.  It has been interminable to arrive here. No wonder so many writers avoid their work, avoid writing. Inner utterance awake. Ethereal, cold water.  No mistaking.  Consumption, rowing. Gynosomata, Greek for naked body.  Impulse to shout in disappointment when you hear the movements of another nearby.  Hooks pull victim from shell.  Scrape.  Beat parapodia twice per minute. Except when hunting. Surge. Seek comfort but do not allow a voice to swallow you.

In novelty we flounder: a weakness to which I succumb.  Beware hypnotic almost unearthly beauty.  Move along with firmer vision fixed. Rehearsed, inversed.  Summer my eyes left.  How not to be promiscuous in verse? Beware, the beautiful ones.  Only here can you avoid ruin, only in words.

Attempt to make this thought legible.  Dear sea angel, you are a predator.  Depth in connection is easy to mistake in one precise way, easy to wish to move in one direction, senseless.  To depart from sense is one side effect of any mutual admiration or point of understanding. Penetration, depths. Once met, retrieved, summoned, conjured. Impossible to remain. Remember the image, he grasps one complete hand to illustrate, closely undone.  And then begins to extract fingers so that the tips are barely touching. From a lecture on divinity, love, and connectivity.  To remember that in any such postures, enclosures, you remain in relation.  Intertwined or barely touching.  Close or imagined embrace.  Held.

The quiet is remarkable.  And my desk resembles a prayer.

Additional work by Laynie Browne can be found in the print version of Issue 5.