Monday, May 25, 2009

In Death, Placidity (for Susan Sontag)

by Chris Mansel

in a room with Susan Sontag as she progresses
in the steps of death, she talks
I can't copy it all down onto my hands
so I shave my head and continue
her words are like reptiles being born
to a world of Breughel's, ancient one moment
then black the next

her mouth has lost her shape
so I must depend upon the regurgitation
around the room are hundreds of photographs
momento mori

I fall asleep and find when I awake she is gone
crumbled in the clothes she was wearing is a journal
it contains notes about her lives
if you touch the words on the page there are sounds
her voice fills the room and the photographs lean in
to embrace
it's a beautiful moment then I discover I am forbidden to leave

Susan in the photographs begins to wither, to age uncontrollably
far older than when she was alive
her voice is gone and the photographs
still move in

I control my breathing and prepare myself
for what happens next
I open the journal and read aloud
the more I read the more I become older
soon I am a part of the journal and the photographs are caressing me

I open my eyes and there is Susan
wrapped in a shawl and standing on the beach
as the gray waters come in and out

- Chris Mansel