Catherine Chen

“With” Anne Carson

In want of madness I sought to replicate something. Something as form, as placeholder for the
thing-in-want-of-madness. I made myself mad with grief, tunneling after your affection under misty
spotlights of juxtaposed night. But that wasn’t all.

I fought with everything. Beauty. Aura. Lamp shades. Consequence. I was so belligerent that I had
no challengers. I felt spited against and my spirit felt degraded and by the time I could sleep
without acting out against the poor sucker who would be my assigned bedmate I was tired. I turned
in every night with the solid understanding that my behavior was futile and my attitude mediocre. I
did not pray but I tried meditation. I ate stale bread full of spiritual conviction. I read many essays
in praise of words and self-annihilation.

My friends, meanwhile, mourned. They formed the second line, they brought works by their
friends to read, they lit a fire. The fire grew and grew. All this I dreamt. At first the fire provided
solace and the second line resented fascist authoritarianism. Then I must have gotten lazy, the
dream became illegible, and the resistance eventually came to resist we who had fed and nursed the
fire from birth.

Who is the mother of fire?

I mean the mother, the ur-mother.

At the awards show, the wraparound dress incurred a minor fashion rebellion, and the woman
who’d designed it was showered with fiery endorsements of love and endless proclamations of the
desire to “wear you.” Nothing less of course.

I wore the shroud nightly, growing weaker, growing madder. To be proven incorrect, I thought, is
to have found full of wanting.



**

From the Edge of Space

My lifelong dream of being bad is a kind of doing. It maps out ways I inhabit but never am.
Feeling is an attachment so you stick around. Still lake water. Still the presence of the dream.

A path that could be: taken.

Forbidden sex, the wish to say yes and no simultaneously.

The selective omen.

Which I reject. I reject the dream. I walk slowly. In a moment of sweat and flushed cheeks. Turn
over. You offer me a koala print sweater on an afternoon when all I want is to dream and resist
critical thought. I only care that my reality of being bad has language, has been found capable of
possessing language.

Or stop. So you stop. I dreamt the scenario I want to stage. I don’t want to possess, I want to
forgive. I want sloppy seconds and strawberry rhubarb pie. I want to sit on the highway overpass. I
haven’t slept in weeks. I roll off the bridge and feel my limbs dissolve.

The question of the body is irrelevant.

Memory caught in reflection is the light in a golden eye.


**

CATHERINE CHEN is a poet and performer living in Cambridge, MA. Her writing has appeared in Nat.Brut, Websafe 2k16, Mask Magazine, among others. She can be found @aluutte.

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