Friday, October 14, 2011

Suppose it were Friday xlii: by our rivers to our bay


My notion, I don't mind to say, of water's like the Pacific,
which simply crashes in without seeming to be fed by a terrestrial source. This is all wrong for Virginia, which is a confluence of riparian syringes into its Chesapeake, infusing intentions. Icthyology is natural down here, and even if it weren't, is so hoarily breastbeaten into the myths of masculine society that I could possibly be the first tenant heard to confide, that I don't drop a line into the water in that way. In truth, nobody does any-thing Virginian who didn't start doing it as a child, or does it except with those he's always done it with. This makes perfect sense, and explains, among other things, George Allen.

A Californian, nevertheless, will go to the water; and so, because of where icthyology transpires, the possibility of running into Virginians has to be accepted. They'll drop everything, to satisfy themselves that one is just passing through; but once that aspiration is assuaged, their vigilance relaxes, and you can see it in the ripples from their boats, not as a flickering stern or a bobbing prow, but as an emanation of the keel, churning the darkness of secrets. It isn't this way, everywhere - and one can go to the water down here for the same reason one might take a book to a coffeehouse: it is legible.

            And the huge ruts of the ebb tide
            Swirl toward the east,
            Toward the pillars of the forest,
            Toward the timbers of the pier,
            Whose angle is struck by whirlpools of light.

Rimbaud's term for these whirl-
pools - tourbillons - is so close
to turbidity, that, that he should
have found them illuminating, al-
lowed him to will their illumina-
tion. It's as if he'd gone fish-
ing here.

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud
  Marine [fragment]
John Ashbery, translation
op. cit.

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