To read “Material World” by Anurak Saelaow is to re-live the first and greatest trauma of the human condition. And yet, “plot” or “about-ness” are besides the point. Here is a piece devoted to the molecular level of the senses, where each verb is a ripple in a whole universe, and every noun a mighty atom, terrifying in it’s import.
— Rocío Carlos, author of Attendance, poetry prize finalist
I pace the canal’s amniotic span, its green-flecked
guiderails, following its steady jaunt from road
to coast. Here is the ambition of material —
a plastic bag, prolapsed, unreadable patterns
of foam rising from the insistence of flow.
The sun encounters its own face, distended
in refractions of scum. I think of striding
quick enough to step out of my carapace,
the net of these abdominals, my shoes left
steaming on asphalt. Slipping past railing
the way Jonah crashed through veils of baleen,
his body tongued by sudden breathy darkness.
To return to water, heeding a Devonian drum,
to plunge and curl into that primordial bed
before I was a marble pealing in my mother,
a crushable sprite revolving end-over-end.
Imagine my body dividing into firmness,
striding for exit. Urged toward an amber light.
Tracing another canal as it tracks a route
into solidity, that first unforgivable breath.