Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Leslie Scalapino

5 sections from Hmmm

         Considering certain emotions such as falling asleep,     I said,

  (especially when one is standing on one’s feet), as being similar

  to fear, or anger, or fainting.     I do.     I feel sleep

  in me is induced by blood forced into veins

  of my brain.     I can’t focus.     My tongue is numb

  and so large it is like the long tongue of a calf or

  the tongue of a goat or of a sheep.     What’s more, I bleat.

  Yes. In private, in bed, at night, with my head

  turned sideways on the pillow. No wonder I say that I love to sleep.



  Suppose I was thinking something, say, not knowing I was thinking it,

  one day when I saw this dog before a house on the sidewalk,     he

  not really sidling toward me,     but more like loping sideways?

  Well, his tongue was lolling. And he was whining the way human heads

  loll forward in sleep and whinny.     Something so hesitant and low

  More so, because it was a nasal sound, a neigh, the way

  we neigh, not thinking, when we are nervously mimicking a horse.

  So I mimicked him, the dog, right back. Really I was being flippant

  by pretending to gallop; and all the while not moving,

  and letting my tongue slip forward between my lips, really laughing.


  I know I am sick (someone will say to you) when all I can eat

  is something sweet. Also I sweat. Foods like fruits, eggs,

  or meat, are things I can’t eat. Furthermore, my disease

  is like rabies. I can’t swallow. I am obsequious,     and

  on the other hand I fawn so easily on others, i.e. a man

  or a dog, that dogs will be led by me     silently; for instance

  by my casting them a blank although a soft look.

  For the dog and I, I’ll say this at least   (   here the person

  speaking to you purses his lips   ), do yearn for each other     .


  Isn’t     it     interesting     how     a   woman      like     me

  pursues     in     man     after     man

  the same face or even the same foot or hand. Like the man

  who loved a woman for her sheared hair.     Sure. Loved her,

  he said,     because she was like a hyena. Or, like a mongrel

  or like a short-haired dog. i.e. When in bed, the man said,

  while calling her pet names by whistling, he liked to nip her

  with his lips. And once, during intercourse, when he told her

  what he would like most from her,     the man said facetiously:

  I want you to say the word yip, as in the yelp of a young dog.


  Raising     the hand     in a certain way     to the head

  Weeks later, one day when I did see the man whom I kept thinking

  I had been seeing everywhere (think of me staring at men

  to see if they had the same walk and the same hair as he had),

  I noticed that the nod that he directed to me (as he passed me

  on the sidewalk with a woman with him) was like the bob of a head

  buoyed up, but swept along so that he seemed to be swooning. Literally.

  So I looked back, after walking a block or so, to see his back.

  And, remembering the provokingly sullen look on the face of the woman

  he was with (as if she had him on a leash), I wanted to put my fingers

  between my lips; so that, by pretending to be sullen and by

  pulling my lip down into a grimace, I would actually be saluting him

  (in the sense of someone making a gesture such as     raising

  the hand               in a certain way                 to the head  )

  fr. “hmmm” in Considering how exaggerated music is

  [San Francisco:  North Point Press, 1982

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