Jul 112017

Kate Hall



A figure is contained by the shape of only one.
Only is the extremity. For example a beast.
And if only is added to a beast then it stands small and unbefriended.
And if only is subtracted from a beast then its shadow may loom and
Other things being equal, in both ways, a beast suffers.

I is a figure contained by the shape of only one.
Only is the extremity.
And if only a beast is added to I then I will be forgotten.
And if only a beast is subtracted from I then, truthfully, something is overlooked.
Hence, I am contained in the beast or the beast is contained in I.
Other things being equal, both ways, I suffers.

Somewhere there is less shame.
But we know only so far.
Hence, somewhere there is disappearance.
And there is a precise only-sized hole in the cage.



(1) I am learning to suffer in your language and (2) it ends differently depending on who does it. Also, (3) I’ve learned how suffering can be minimized with elastics. (4) The necessity of error. (5) The dog came home with a snout full of porcupine quills. Here, (6) I’ve outlined the distance between the ideal arrangement and the tangible crystal, which has to bear its irregularities. Even though, (7) I am the one explaining the meaning of heading down the wrong track and despite the fact that (8) the weighing and balancing of certain limits is hard to understand, (1) I am learning to suffer in your language and (2) it ends differently depending on who does it.



Captured in journeys through water.

In aquariums.

In jars of tap water.

As in, a little pond water has been added.

And of course there is blame.

Which no one can answer.

That the light passes through.

That widespread devastation.

That in great abundance.

A single red eye.

Then many.

That colored the sea for miles.

Ephemeral puddles.

As habitat.


As in, a fact not found.

Despite The Field Book of Natural History.


To sink into deeper water by day.

To feed by night.

For being the less common.
For being fresh-run from the sea.

A container for the impossible.

That fell 9 days from heaven.

That and then 9 more.



Moments of communion had consequences;
each one made a baby.
And the world was forced down the throat of this tiny I
which caused it indigestion.
It’s true that the baby is only the idea of a baby
but still it cried for a long time,
until the words blocked off the place where the world was lodged
like the body creates the abscess
and thus, the I grew and became enormous and parentless.

This is a story of creation.
Our separate same stories
we construct and reconstruct in a dark,
enclosed as the I is in its dark room,
adrift in its systems—
organs, tissues and cells—
so full of world lodged somewhere unlocatable within or without.
Our words surround the world;
when we find them, we cling to them.
Yet, we never understand what each other is saying;
our languages are so different.

And in the end what actually saved us was not the names of things,
not the capsule of words that held the world back,
it was the gesture.

The elegant arc of these fragile manipulative hands as they
coaxed each O into existence, each I into existence.
And this was the moment of communion,
the moment of creation,
the slow tango,
the pounding of the fists against the wall of the self:
the gesture of my O and yours so separate and sudden and strange.
How two Is can bump into one another:
one I rub against the boundary of the other I,
so that eventually one I was taken into the other
and the other I was taken into the other.


And in the end we were not for what we thought.
We were for the gesture,
as the night for the lift of the moon and not the morning,
as the plant for the breaking of the soil and not the flower,
as the grapes for the feet and not the wine.

The words are just practice;
they are misunderstandings.
And the misunderstandings are practice
for the inevitable loss of one I or the other
and the world sequestered there.
The loss that comes when we stop,
when the sun streams through the window
and morning breaks in.

—Kate Hall

Kate Hall lives in Montreal. Her first book of poems, The Certainty Dream, was published by Coach House Books (2009).


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