The Third Space

Tracy Fuad

At the end of the road
Is a space wide enough 
That the far side
Is blurred in the heat
And it's hot
Though it's still June
Still we are gathered
Some are reading
Some garden
Or grill
In the square where grilling is legal 
The margins of which are patrolled
Above which a plume 
Of smoke rises
And across Columbiadamm
A basin gathers rain. 
We forget this is a ruin. 
We train cameras on each other. 
We train cameras on the text
Projected in the mezzanine
We pass around a fire
On the fire escape
And pinch the map 
To see more clearly
Where it is we're going. 
Things are not always
Only as they are. 
If I'm speaking through a cracked
and smattered voice
It is my only speaking voice. 
If I'm imitating how you speak
This is how I learned to speak. 
A frantic architecture. 
I mean, forensic architecture. 
There is a wall here
made of river rocks. 
It stood here all these weeks
So quietly
Until I saw it.
Sometimes translation
is revenge. 
Someone who I loved 
Once called dreams
The underwater theater show. 
I mean, I lived with them. 
I don't know I know
the difference. 
The Pommes by the lake were not
Cooked through. 
It’s true the reviews 
Were pitiful
Though I only read them later. 
The currywurst was only hot 
On the outside
The bun stained
Like a pencil. 
Stop only for emergencies. 
On the far side of the lake
There was still sun 
But we all got a bit sad
Though no one said it then
And the messages we sent 
Describing where we were
Did not arrive until we left. 
In this way the lake
Was latent. 
Sometimes a friendship 
Is untimely
A friendship
With the dead
As in the politically dead
Or the dead in the sense 
Of an unfinished project.
An unfinished season.  
A frenetic archive. 
The numbers have faded. 
What could be the reason
the curtains are closed?
A word for someone 
Who doesn't speak the language. 
A word for someone who tends the untended land. 
A word for someone sleeping. 
We are writing
a history of sleep. 
The book predates itself. 
If sleep is a place 
Of reconstitution
I am unconstituted.
Sometimes living
makes you sick. 
A poisoning landscape. 
A disappeared river. 
Mining emotional futures. 
Something has happened
And it is still happening. 
Some of us come 
From a bloodline of dissidents 
And others of adherents. 
But lineage is always plural. 
I cannot contemplate
While I am waiting
And I am always waiting. 
Still, there is a surplus
In the margins
To make this more sustainable. 
Serena will bring cherries. 
Maisa will bring 
Caesar salad and Jalal Toufiq.
I will bring the baby 
And a cake of rye and cardamom. 
This is different than 
The old gaze of nostalgia. 
To leave the event
And become the event
Go and take the little book
and eat it. 
To speak from the stomach
Without the mouth. 
To know with the liver
To know with the little intestine. 
No additional text. 
We are here in the garden, early. 
The show has not yet started. 
The basin, after rain,
Is ripe and sensitive. 
For a few moments, two of us
Bear the weight of the bag together
For no particular reason
Heat where our skin is touching.
Time keeps coinciding
With itself.  
If you take the words away 
What you have left is a tree. 
Now I will take out
The words. 


Reprinted with permission from PORTAL by Tracy Fuad, published by the University of Chicago Press.
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