The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues
OCT 2020 Issue

Six From My Daily Actions, or The Meteorites


In the field hands rise like wildflowers.

Each nail painted a bright color—teal, sunflower, tangerine, lapis.

From your vessel, dip the paddle to the dirt.

It moves as water, a reversed river.

A single door, ornate, leads only to the rest of the meadow.

When I am alone, I sometimes stand like the women of those worlds which are my own sacred texts.

I hold a scepter shaped like a key, turn from the Torah toward a magical girl.

A beautiful form appears with a warning: the valley will burn, or the sky will firm as weight.

These are not inevitable, but I react to specific demands.

For example, let time move forward.

Never go through the door.

So, I wait and watch what moves in the meadow.

Each step toward or away from the door becomes impossibly detailed.

I was in an orchard. My hair grew behind me like the tail of some fast sphere. A worst fear: cauliflower ear. I can't hear about the vegetable without thinking of the football players. The only feeling to which I have a corresponding acute physical sensation is disgust, the shudder of cottonmouth it tries to disperse. Or this fear of pain and that it might happen to me. Why is it a yelled name from a stranger is hurtful? Consider annihilation in small doses, how it can be accomplished by anyone. I'm still afraid of the bakery cashier, and it's been five years. Say, you don't look pink. Say, pink is not the color. It's difficult to detach pink from inherent value. See the heat-soaked cobblestones. Even at night, there's no relief. Pink floods the inside of the eyelid.

But also, it was in the way we responded to things, how some jokes seemed to "catch" on a face, pull it towards or away from an utterance. By "we" of course I mostly mean just me. Meanwhile Danielle writes "meanwhile, that tree outside can be sad if I think it so," and as I grew older I became more easily confused for or confirmed as comfortable. I wore a backwards baseball cap for the first time, grew my hair but not an intentional beard. I pretended a certain kind of beauty had silver in it, and in a way it was. I lay in bed with a pink lion and a bodily mechanism that released a tear—something about my proprioceptive orientation, how my chest sacrificed itself for the sensations held only in my face.

The steeping tea marks the feeling of waiting. I chose oolong, this time, and unlike other times the source is withheld. When heated, a woman does not recognize the leaves she previously disseminated. I too do not look closely at the shapes I contain, only the paths I send outwards. I am a bad imitator and yet this is a good imitation, which is to say a bad paragraph. In what ways can a duplicate be as interesting as the original, if it claims to be different as a second steep, the small remnants of a seed at the bottom of a glass container.

I'm truly annoyed when I know someone I love can do better, but try not to tell them. I bring up a window, now a screen, that is, a special glass made invisibly off-camera. There's a lens in my eye, and in one film an extra lens tipped off an assassin. At this point almost anything could be a fairy tale. The robot and the alien escape to elaborate asteroid rings. Photos of the planets do not reveal them. The streaked sky means it's been well-used since I was a child. I used to sit at the edge of the lake as waves came in and try to predict precisely the path they would leave on the sand, their exact contour. I almost said it was more interesting than lines, but I'm interested in those too, how I could never achieve the precision my high school art teacher wanted from me. I've embraced it like an elegant glove, smudged with the ink from the drawing.

There is an exchange at work, of attention, of a smooth texture I am elided from for one like paper. Each lightning bug spills from behind the bookcase. Each cold shipwreck in my mind. The television I watch almost invariably moves around what it means to take a life, although often becomes truly philosophical only unwittingly. The formula holds a deeply charged red, a halo. Once a man charged at a man and failed, and later he tried a different tactic. A natural life contained in a tank, with the dolphin. Natural natural natural natural natural natural said until it feels like a sentence where each word is a different part of speech. A syllogism, or only if you already knew it as overpouring.


S. Brook Corfman

S. Brook Corfman is the author, most recently, of My Daily Actions, or The Meteorites (chosen by Cathy Park Hong for the Fordham POL Prize), and the chaplet Frames (Belladonna* Books). Richard Siken chose their first book, Luxury, Blue Lace, for the Autumn House Rising Writer Prize. @sbrookcorfman &


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2020

All Issues