40×40@40: Alli Warren on Bernadette Mayer

ALLI WARREN

MADE IN A FACILITY THAT PROCESSES SPILT MILK


“I had an idea to write a book that would translate the detail of thought from a day to language like a dream transformed to read as it does, everything, a book that would end before it started in time to prove the day like the dream has everything in it.
” – Bernadette Mayer

“alone in the dream’s dressing room trying on / different styles” “to be conversant with the actual view” “we’re standing directly in the dream’s line of fire” “like all songs’ versions of all loss of love” “Or thirty-four soon my life is at least half over”— I’m thirty, I read Midwinter Day again, an annual tradition, this time it’s in a little tin roofed shack in a high desert ghost town east of Los Angeles. What remains? junk shop, general store, Catholic Church, City Jail, and saloon. At the junk store I buy a disc of some blue rock gem and on a fake gold chain a block of tiger’s eye which now rests as I write upon my breastbone. I’m in the dressing room trying on the outfit of someone who believes in charms. I know what I know which is not a lot but my body my body, sometimes it’s too open and I wind up diseased and emotional on a tossed bed, other times I intuit a coming scar and hole up where nothing can catch me. It’s the end of December, the end of the year in which I learn my love must be a kind of blind love, that alterity is (duh) always already, despite appearances, despite promises, despite love. I can hear hills and the occasional wheeze of an ORV engine, is it a calming or eerie silence. How will I ever retreat to the country if I don’t know how to feel about its sounds. So much quiet I could begin to think the only axiom’s lived expression in daily action. The trees seep with what I think are quail and the dry basin’s tufa spires are monuments we climb. Many stars and one’s perpetually shooting. I pay someone to tell me I have a habit of working hard at love. Am I brave enough to earnestly relate my dreams? Or the towns erected in their stead? Call the spirits from their dens. Johnny <3 Jasmine is etched into the blue formica, marking the rolling bolder of any freely given love. The sun will cling to those hills a few hours longer then the hidden suns will reveal their ripe mugs, a shining means of one foot follows the next and trust in breath made flesh. I’ll stand knee deep in it, a porous vehicle of despair slash hope that I might through some miracle or dumb luck never bow to those who say care’s for crows. I carry these limbs around get so attached to any ripe kindness or opening gift I break when it frays. Should I be more or less circumspect as we lean into the coming disasters. Hand in hand in the enrapt night. Together in the same trough. I’m rooting for the pirates. “If we’re all wrong about everything, the life so short and the craft so long to learn, the assay so hard, so sharp the conquering, the dreadful joy that passes so quick and then being left alone again, what I mean is love astonishes my feeling with its wonderful working so ardently so painfully so that when I’m thinking about such certainty I don’t know like the earth if I’m floating or sinking.”

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