OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 9

Zack Rybak

NEAR-ELEGY AT SUNDOWN

 

The problem is all movement is bodied,

                                                this relief between things as they are

                        and the bottomless feeling of self.

 

Even Heidegger left it alone, meaning no language,

                                                no matter how obscure, could reconcile

                        this other, deeper obscurity.

 

Matter/form, something extracurricular—

                                                a plenum of impulse, determined forward.

                        I say this, but these words are not

 

where I am. I am seven or eight years old again

                                                beneath the hum of powerlines,

                        the air soaked in two-stroke exhaust,

                       

where the bitterbrush is quiet and still,

                                                indifferent to their bodies pressing together.

                        I don’t understand what I see.

 

I see a man and a woman on top of a blanket

                                                or maybe it’s a beach towel, the dirt hot

                        to the touch, and they rise and fall

 

into each other. Tell me what you know about the night terrors.

                                                Thrown into this world, how else

                        could it be said, and how saying it

 

makes it so. I know that the body conceals its night

                                                and that that is why it remembers, in general

                        and in detail without end.

 

And if our movements are already ahead of us,

                                                governed by wind or gravity or are

                        wind and gravity themselves, governed

 

like any state, a soap bubble and inertia, these two bodies

                                                rising and falling, and how easily love

                        becomes violent, the way they stand after,

 

the way they turn away from one another,

                                                the way they don’t speak. Only later, years

                        between us, do I finally see

 

that I’m no longer the one watching. At some point,

                                                how all things move, I became the man,

                        and that’s what I know, this blur

 

at the intersection of the narrative we’ve written

                                                and the bodies we’ve written over,

                        the rocks beneath water.

Zack Rybak was born and brought up in Reno, Nevada. He earned his MFA from the University of Montana, where he was a Poetry Editor at Cutbank, and is currently an Associate Editor at Carve. His manuscript was a finalist for the 2019 National Poetry Series and his poems have appeared in New England Review, Mid-American Review, and Narrative, where he was a finalist for the 30 Below Contest. Most recently he was awarded the Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize in Poetry from Jabberwock Review.