Still Life with “Particularly Distressing Circumstances”

All that work and for what. His body began to feel

as if it were entirely liquid. His limbs felt soft and porous.
All he wanted to do was close his eyes.

One convalescence after another, a kind of willed dying.

He had felt as if he were in a glass box with fragile walls,
deep in the ocean. If he spoke or moved, he thought,

it would create a vibration, which would cause

the glass to shatter. Then, of course,
the water would pour in.

Half-way around the world,

soup, saltines, a back and forth of voices
whose unison might be deafening, if

what has been called a movement consisted of more than this
chorus of deer-like faces

altogether too innocent to know the difference between talk and song is

slight almost imperceptible.
After words have failed “This is a way of saying, ‘This is unspeakable,’” but

he had just begun to whisper:

“It will go well for me.” “I do not feel alone.” “I am not the worst.”
Soon, perhaps, he will hum again.