I am committed to departure. The frail touch of a voice, swung in the hold of language. My argument; certain mouths do not die, the I lives and is capable of re-articulation. This is the site of writing. To become lasting, not whole necessarily, but kissed in passage. Considering poems as living figures with legs, arms, lips, and eyes, what is of the fragment and the archive, what is of translation if not a soft dismemberment and reconstitution of sentience. The composition persists and disarticulates.
There is an eternal struggle and endless contradiction within a people who can never die, wrote W.E.B Du Bois. A mouth is chamber angel. In reading, language reenters the guttural caves. An intense yearning for other spheres produces a listener. The listener prolongues the argument. When god created her heavenly creatures, recites a Hadith, they raised their heads toward heaven and asked: Lord, who are you with? A response fell: I am with those who are victims of injustice, until their rights are restored. The word is replete with undiagnosable futures, a lament on wholeness, asymmetrical affect. The word is continuance made apparent, gliding in fall and flight, undecided.
In Dream of Europe, I recall Audre Lorde reading in West Berlin in 1989; For most of my life I did not dream of Europe at all except as nightmare. Some here say that Europe civilized the world. To me and two thirds of the world’s population, it is more like Europe enslaved the world. Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Century Europe came to the shores of Africa and bought my ancestors, packed them into floating sardine-cans, and sold them to other Europeans in the New World. To reconcile dream and nightmare one must surrender their idyllic figures. One must renounce Europe, sever all pretenses of safety and haven. The continent is adrift and darkened by bodies at the perimeter. Robin Blaser writes, I am devoted to wreckage, and I too. A dream is an impossible ground to be recomposed. Introduce a counter-imperial diffusion. This is my offering, the indocile, as Danielle Collobert writes in her notebook under the signs of summer; leave –– fast –– be alone –– somewhere. Solace is false altogether.
The seminars, readings, and interviews collected in Audre Lorde: Dream of Europe are incomplete. I did not strive for the total transcription of archival sources just as the poet signaled for her own; I have no intention of finishing anything. I accepted her vanishing. I read her stanzas annotated for revision, witnessed the skeletal shape of her lyrical poems, the incomplete gasping and preparatory. It was fibers of presence that guided my punctuations. The rhetorical architecture of breath constitutes the book.
The reader assumes her role in continuance, a completion relegated to the future. A friend whispers the final lines of a poem by Wysława Szymborska into my thinking, and the book of events, is always open halfway through. Audre Lorde reads, we are in the most dangerous times in human history. The assertion is simple, applicable even today. The mouth of the world is wide, full of voices at each ear. There are indeterminate wars. There are slow massacres sometimes without evidence. There are elective affinities, minor inflections braid the moment, for a single pulse dilated. How many bodies must fall at the feet of nationhood before our wars are deemed sufficient, before apathy becomes a crime of derelict, a crime of the mind. Before my loved ones I see, even the warmest flower is lined with corpses.