/d smotrich-barr

Essay On Conjugation

It started with
a question, curving punctuation.
It started with the thought
of whittled wood.                     Or by looking for a hollow
place to put a penny.

Why does the poem want
to assume the form that it does? M had asked me some years back.
I can’t figure it out, even now. Tend to hide in clauses.
How do you know, I asked him, how

to listen to some resonance behind the syllables that might breathily
give rise

to a body?

I had tried. Had studied Latin.
In that language you had to shimmer
tenses to find
the buried desires
lingering at the edge of the word.

I could only feel the forms
of the poems by accident
and M asked,
but is there a way to get there on purpose, always?

(Get to. That other, hallucinated body.)          (I said no. Impossible.)

I wanted to name the space
between feeling fragile and being hallowed
out. The hull before conjugation. I wanted
to say indestructible. To hold a word like that
in my chest. Find the core’s twin-child,
some other try at a form
long lost. Impossible.


Dani Smotrich-Barr grew up in Michigan and recently graduated from Wesleyan University. They have work published or forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Vagabond City, Ghost City Review, giallo and elsewhere.