Field Notes, by Erin Gallery

“Rooms by the Sea, 1951”

This time I’m not going to say a thing

about Blue. It isn’t the logging days,

its centuries after. No dogs tracking out

in the bark-scatter and dust. Pilings stand still

in the lake, waiting to be docked. In New York,

John is at his desk blank words ticking by, and even

money has a seating chart these days.

In the slums of Florida, Hemingway kept

a cellar full of first editions, let them

rot of their own accord. Maybe roaches loved them,

made nests curled up and read. “Start at page one

and write like a son of a bitch” was not something

Hemingway said, it was Harrison

blind in one eye, Indian in the other

but hey, he’s not shot-gun prone

at least.  My father cried when I lost

a tooth. Do not spend a lot of time crying

over lost teeth that aren’t yours, is the mantra. But

I loved him for it, sunk down on linoleum tragedy

in the bric-a-brac and Pine Sol of modern-day.

There are asteroid tumors in the universe

of the brain which start large, shatter into smaller

fragments, spread slowly out. When scanned,

they glow like fireflies in glue. Vanessa told me this

in the waiting room, all its magazines

dirty with staph. One Hopper we saw

opens on sea, no steps down

just water and the doorframe. It’s a surprise

the room doesn’t flood during storms.

for another Field Note by Erin…


It was on an Easter Sunday that she and her mother

made their way down cold-rock steps into the hallways

below the streets of Paris, the catacombs

which are, of course, corridors with walls of bone.

It cost five francs to see them, these bones

stacked so neatly they looked like miniature logs

in a cabin wall. In their order she almost forgot

they were human – there a leg, here a right

arm cracked and yellow. There were pits

of forgotten bones as though the architect ran out

of time or tunneled space or maybe simply died

his quiet death in a plague-bed picturing the spot

his own skull would fit into the passageways

below the avenues and sewers. They walked a mile there,

she and her mother, breathing the damp-death history

in the dim light. She remembers the climb out, the Lazarus feel

of city air and wintery sun. In silence they found

a restaurant on a side street, ordered red wine and white asparagus

as outside the people shuffled home from church and bells sang

he lives, he lives, he breathes again.


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