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WE BARTER WHAT WE WITNESS: thinking after TC Tolberts Gephyromania

Gephyromania, i somehow know, refers to an obsession with crossing bridges. i must have
looked this up and then proceeded to immediately forget about doing such. often, i forget about
the directions in which ive looked before now. how looking and not looking has gotten me here.
it feels like there are directions one can look toward that are unnameable. consider the space, just
left of left, slightly above your knees, where youre both deep in your own body-space and also
perched on the edge of yourself, as if you could forget about your body. as if you could want to.
(often, we do.)
perhaps a useful goal is to forget that the boundaries are there. not to pretend to escape them, not
even to disregard them. but to choose to look at more.
this book fills me with the warm blanket texture crying the open hands of such promising
choices.

unknowing is its own bridge to crossto write past the pretend space of singular truth,
meandering around difference. ambling. hesitating. or charging forth toward ambiguity. creative
difference, says Audre Lorde.
but even the mirrors have become bars we lean against, and this is the space in which this book
begins and i wonder: are mirrors the opposite of bridges? the static counterpartwe lean too
hard on the image (singular) of ourselves. i look at myself and pretend thats all im doing.
how to unknow ones own reflection? (so scary!). the rule of nonrecollection is paramount to
the myth of the sink (7). im not talking about not being able to recollect yourself, recognize
yourself, but to recognize the self beyond the reflection. (the mirror is the myth; the sink, the
myth.)
porcelain and glass are pretty much always lying.

every morning i wake up, i make coffee or drink the coffee which my partners have made, i sit
on the porch unless its too cold in which case i get another sweatshirt, a pair of old socks, i go
back to the porch and perhaps i enjoy the fog enveloping the Columbia Gorge or else its a clear
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day and im able to see the Gorge, the dam, the mountains, because Oregon has mountains and
thats why i call it home, and i look out to my left at Mt. Hood, i look at the way the clouds frame
it from one day to the next, look at whether its tip is exposed or not, look at its colors, which do
vary, from the distance of my porch and various kinds of weather, whether my eyes are more
open or shut, how did i sleep the night before, what am i even looking for when i look at this
mountain, &c.
this is another bridge.

Gephyromania tells me that there is more to us than representation. but if our image includes
what we appear to be as well as what we are not, then even representation itself is bigger than
what we can see (1). the word itself prevents its own full form of meaning.
this is the problem of language (another necessary bridge).
in my own small experiences of being a person who engages in language, where much of the
engagement has included close, persistent attention to words encountered via this thing called
poetry, i feel comfortable saying that i think language works best when it doesnt pretend to
contain the thing its talking about. when its full of pointing. full of bridges leading to that which
the language is meant to help you cross over to/from. maybe not always crossing entirely, but
definitely pointing, leaning, gesturing. the body of language, writhing in the direction of more
than language.

this year i rediscovered the song Parasol (Tori Amos, The Beekeeper). she says, if im the
seated woman with the parasol / i will be safe in my frame. she means a painting, but i think too
of the frame of a film camera and of a photograph. and this idea of framing became a useful tool
during the past year, where my frame has been occasionally expanded, shattered, reformed.
coupled, uncoupled, tripled. faux doubled, undoubled. numbered. this body, that body, that other
one over there.
i want to say, how is a bridge an expanded frame? safe stretching. not breaking my bones, just
pushing my body so that i am slowly bigger. not outside of myself but within my bigger selves.
a bridge points always in at least two directions. it is always bigger than itself (and plural.) (3).
even plural is a single word. oh languagewill you ever just give up and become an architect,
an engineer?

what do you call the middle of a bridge? the middle of a letter? so middle that you cannot see the
beginning address, the signature? mid-crossing, i am still living the possibility of more than one
space. and so within a letter, you might not see who i am addressing, or even who i am.
and then, the poemto be crossing it, to reach the other side of language. im interested in that
space when youre no longer on the one side but havent quite reached the other, that fluid space
where, perhaps, the most impossible poems are to be found.
poems as impossible bodies.
to live in that bridge-space, that body-space, is to be able to always turn around and, in doing so,
move as one who goes only onward, up over the bridge, like a mountain. like home.
i mean this book is a bridge but its also a treehouse, a space of existing without time, or
language. that i believe the poems would exist even as their language faded away means these
poems are as real as trees. it doesnt have to make sense. my body just exists near them, breaths
more deeply.
Gephyromania is full of the blurred gesture of moving onward: To stand between the text and
its articulation (11). this book names itself and, in doing so, calls forward into time and space its
own impossible obsession. to exist, impossibly, in time and space. it grants permission to my
own unknowing, makes it feel possible or at least real. consider the difference: the former relies
on posterityto be possible is always to look into the future before considering whether the
thing can exist. and future is, more than anything, a space only accessed through language. to
be real is to be here, now, whether you own a watch or hang a calendar on your wall or admit
through language that things might one day change. the poem is real, the book is real. the tree is
real and will continue growing without having to say so. Gephyromania makes clear that both of
these things can be necessary and beautiful: the existing, and the saying so.

- Sarah Cook

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