Hall of Waters

We forget that one product of fire’s burning is water. And Berry Grass’ searing and far-seeing, tetrahedral and tenderhearted micro memoirs set in the osmotic membrane of the Middle Border, Hall of Waters, re-minds us of these fused and confused outcomes at the core of the combustion of cognition. There is nothing I can think of akin to the elemental chemistry of this book. It is sublime, yes, but in its exquisitely rendered prose it rewrites (and rights) the valences that bond us to the place of place and the us of us. This water is “hard” water indeed, but in the dissolved solids one finds a balm, a welling, a source, and a baptism all drenched and drenching in liquid fire. -Michael Martone, Author of The Moon Over Wapakoneta and Brooding

Accountability

Let’s get to the point, like water does, rushing to fill all the spaces: this is about liquidity. What fills the spaces isn’t whether or not I am your daughter but whether or not I can afford to be your daughter. There are costs involved. The empty spaces are what writing teachers call “place.” It is understood by the writing teachers that place is the bodies of water where you are from. It is understood that a father’s bottle of whiskey is itself a body of water. It is understood that until you surface, fluvial, in your womanhood there’ll be empty spaces. So 1mg of liquid injected into the delta of my thigh every other week is getting to the point. Meanwhile the water levels everywhere else are rising, and that’s getting to the point. The point is that this is about liquidity. What fills the spaces isn’t whether or not a space can be defined in thought but whether or not I can afford the box. What fills the spaces isn’t whether or not your many waters sustained me, Excelsior, but whether or not I can afford to live with your minerals in my blood. Am I obliged to your iron, am I in debt to your manganese. My alkaline inheritance.

Donald Judd’s Untitled (Stack), Museum of Modern Art, New York City, New York

Donald, this is my favorite of your plexiglass stacks. Twelve shelves sitting hydroponic green, vertical, as if every front lawn in my neighborhood growing up together made a ladder leading to nothing. I see this green & I see nature, hear Fishing River trickling, smell my mom’s overgrown garden. You saw this green & saw industry, motorcycle lacquer, the sheen of bass boats, you saw production. You thought nature inert until you complicated it with a few boxes. You wrote that “the box is a neutral form, that it has no symbolic meaning.” But I look at your stack, green as grass as my last name as the confines of family, and all I see is symbol. All I see in every box is a symbol I stand in. People deny my personhood because I am just a symbol. I stand waiting in line for the bathroom and I am just a symbol. I stand out in public and I am green, I am a monster. I move from room to room, each identity a box, the more boxes the more I am a monster. What we mean when we say monster is “symbol.” What we mean when we say boxes is “confine the monster.” Donald, you wrote that “actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface.” But you never quite got there -- two-dimensional canvas or three-dimensional box, your use of space is still symbolic because it is boxes, boxes all the way down. I want to know: What is actual space when you are a monster? What if actual space was more than where I am stacked standing?

Mineral Poisoning

Sodium toxicity results in the shrinking of cellular tissues, especially
       in the brain and lungs, causing cellular paralysis.

       Lithium toxicity results in renal failure, severe cognitive
             impairment, seizures

           Iodine toxicity results in dermal ulcers, a constant metallic taste
                           coating your mouth & tongue – like something is wrong
                                             and you haven’t yet realized that what’s wrong is
                                                               you’re not what they say you are, and
                                                                              hyperthyroidism

             Iron toxicity results in abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, then
                  a curious pause in which you think things are getting better
                        before you experience seizures, liver failure,
                              and glycemic failure

         Nitrite toxicity results in the over production of hemoglobin, which
                  is to say it sends more iron all throughout your body.
                         Which is to say just because someone doesn’t abuse
                                you directly doesn’t mean they didn’t
                                      contribute to your abuse, amplify it,
                                           send it brainward

              Nitrate toxicity results in the body’s inability to carry
                           oxygen in the blood

         Manganese toxicity results in erratic motor skills impairment,
                  depersonalization, disassociation, loss of sense of self

    Potassium toxicity results in cardiac arrhythmia & eventual
          cardiac arrest.

Sulphur toxicity results in aggravation of bronchial-respiratory
    distress & pulmonary dysfunction. Not classified as
        especially dangerous, it is most experienced
            in toxic amounts as a restriction of the
                airway, as a microaggression, a gas
                     set to sweep past the box
                         of lit matches you
                            carry inside
                               you.

You understand my meaning, Excelsior. There is nothing to drink here. You have nothing to offer me. You understand my metaphor, Excelsior. How I tried to filter

                 all of this

                                                                                                               out.

In the purified water industry they call the filtering process “reverse osmosis” and we both understand this, Excelsior. We both understand how I carry your toxicity with me, how I picked it up without knowing what I was swallowing. You handed me a glass of water. It was cold. So what if it smelled like sewer eggs, so what if it was occluded. You said it was cold. You said it was pure.

“The World Reduced to One Truth, Science, Such As It Is”

Donald,
you wrote that:                                                                       “good art
                               cannot contradict what is known
                               at the time it’s made. If it does it’s
                               just ignorant. Knowledge is knowledge
                               and art has to deal with that.”

Good art is geocentric.
Good art is gendered via chromosome.
Good art says you’re either autistic or trans,
             not both.
Good art has a small sample size.
Good art will measure the skulls of people, paint them
             into a caste system, paint them into a genre.
Good art gets government funding.
Good art is cited equally by eugenicists and Reddit memes.
Good art is studied systematically by white people.

Good art shows a possible link between caffeine and cancer.
Good art shows a possible link between abstaining
            from caffeine and cancer.
Good art kills your mother in an attempt to kill her
            cancer.
Good art is archivable, indexable.
Good art need not consent.
Good art has minerals.
Good art is for drinking.
Good art is found at the spa.
Good art will clear up your gout & cure your ulcer
          if you just swim in it.

Donald,
why did you sculpt boxes out in the high plains? Did you want to show that what we know is tiny? self-contained? sitting meek amidst the expanse of everything else? Somehow I don’t think so. After all, is sculpture in Marfa land really different than a canvas hung on a white wall in New York? Is permanence worth the purchase? Do you even know?