Daniel Biegelson

(ע) :: Essay for The Bend beyond Which The Road

Our father. Who art. Eighty now. Has lost his hair. His height. His singing voice.

As the night sky sifts down.       Darkening a small dot of trees.        

Our eyes       lose the light.        Presumption. Resumption. The oscillation. The way

‘everything is       and is not        a metaphor.’ No words on wind. You see. Hear.

The clapping. Clattering. Of branches. No remembering

into. Life. And yet. My son says ostriches are like goats. They eat everything. As he lays

on his beetle back with feet peddling upwards into the air. So minutely close to kismet.

He’s obsessed with distant disaster—the titanic plunging       into the north atlantic    

the hindenburg burning       over lakhurst, nj.        Days ago       how should we measure time

at the local goodwill my wife skirted unrecognized around       her old high school

english teacher who was purchasing a t-shirt that read the past, present and future walked

into a bar.         It was tense. No joke. Do we consume our own       dreams.

As if recognizing the impulse to begin again       my daughter suddenly speaks the story

spinning on the inside       lighting leaping       cloud to cloud       taking her broom

she washed away the sky. And. So. Do. ‘The eyes       of all        look to you       with hope

and you        provide       them with’       provision       sustenance       bearing        furniture

assembly directions       harland and wolff blueprints      cartoon panels       solutions       solvents

chemical formulas       agent orange       burn pits. Yesterday. Or. All the yesterdays. I struggled

with intimations and implications. Like years ago when my therapist confessed 

I’ve been in love before but I’ve never been touched like that. Today I am struggling with translation

and repetition. ‘I am branded by no letters.’ Does each disaster. Each shattering of the glass.

Each occupation. Demand a new alphabet. The white barn beyond the accidental locust

groove requires repair or decay. Attention or attention. A matter of kind. Or direction. I replace

the termite ridden      the water rotten       white pine siding       paint two walls    

autumn blaze and find myself distracted by the terrible art of living.

Elsewhere. It’s the story of many of my many lives. Echoing. So. And. So.

Might I. Can I. Please. Confess. Surrender the seeing       to you. Today ‘another

and another’ headline—‘all the news’—and tomorrow and tomorrow until

the oceans boil. Freeze. Reassemble. Some semblance. ‘Apes wing / in wind. On stone.’

No more headlines. Only notifications. Alerts. In the meanwhile. All       my

messages       refuse to send. Here’s one: the baptist     the baptists      love to hate      

jimmy carter        hospitalized again. In physical comportment too. To relieve pressure.

Is not afraid. To begin. Apparently. On the surface. Is a kind of looking.        In different words.

We see       ourselves.       See through the words sometimes       as windows. The seam. The scene.        

Out the hospital window. The blown harbor        with sweeping glass peaks.

Or the green       hillside mannered with cows.       And now our good eyes       are not eyes

that see in the sense of seeing. At all. Apparently. The light comes. Travels       through us.

Microorganisms       test us.        The biosphere.        Spark in us.      

And rain falls. The same rain. Out in and back in. Forever and ever. Rain

speaks. If we are authors at all. ‘Impinges’ upon us. Like last week when I visited

the optometrist. Driving through a delirious downpour after rescheduling time

‘time and time again.’ And the technician in our yearly ritual reads my area code

and explains again his sense of the uncanny      of his montana cabin       on the edge

of glacier national park left to him and his two sisters

by their parents        and explains how real darkness performs—the hand      

a ghost in front of the face       complete closure       enclosure, etc., etc.—

while I am staring        into a machine and trying       to keep my eye on the road

and the red hot air balloon. My father. My mother. Wear glasses. (Yes. I’m feeling    

solipsistic. Like a transparent eyeball. Or       the still point       of the turning world.)

My wife. My son. Wear glasses. We exist       most likely        in the immediate or intermediate

sense because someone invented glasses. And of course. Because. We survived

        fires. The disaster.       Through time.        In its return.       Are the letters. The words

signposts. The technician asks if I would like the digital image of my retinas for       you know      

my electronic files.  To document. My descent. Two eyes       with optic nerves entering

the brain where a host of miniature calvins pull levers        turn gears       tug at cables. Figure.

Figure. Parent. Child. The figure for all. Or. For each generation. Or the paradigm shifts.

All times. Modern Times. Or in older tongues. Do you speak. So. Hear. Pray. (I love

the scrollwork of your ears.)       Can I. May I.       May you

adjust to the dark grove. ‘The darkness       between lives.’ See ‘under

vine and fig tree.’ Rest and decouple. See through

shade. But see shade. As well.

See shadow. Of bee. Before. (The dictionary). Also. Stitched. Figaro. Figaro.

Sing. To sing. A form of sight also.          When the song echoes.


I am staring down glaucoma. Apparently. I am as tall as I need to be. On this earth. In this century.

And if I am to be butchered. Again. I should        want to go. To. Rapallo. 1963. No.

I hear. Beautiful this time      of year.        I’ve never been.        For G-d’s sake.      Why do you place

so many parts of your many selves in boxes stacked within boxes so you need a room

within a room to search for a part to exhume and shine up. Show off. Show out.

A deafening glare.  Here is where I am.       I would like to use an evocative exclamation followed

by an apostrophe to beget a volta but feel radically insufficient.      Leap. I name you.      

The syntax so formal. Sprung. Salto.        I name you       צְפַרְדֵעַ.       People of the people before.

People        among the rocks.      Of the coast.       Fossils.       Hope.       You speak to me        

as if trying         to eat       each word        from the air—and so we are still hungry        

for ‘the art of french cooking’ or ‘a truckload of art’ spilled over a highway. To see. Beyond.      

Your repast. Your song. To see wildly. To see with good eyes        made good      

in the ghostly sense        of being or seeing        ‘through the grave’       weighed down

by stones       placed to hold       back the body. To see through      the body. Through the long

stretches       filling and emptying sidewalks          people slicing              twisting—thought-bubbles      

rifting off or trailing tangentially        as if we could see ourselves

for what we really are or as if eyes can ever be or simply ever are eyes. My grandfather

        who I did not always know was my grandfather responded oh man…the thread 

by which we hang.       At night we can sometimes see beyond what we can see

the slow lights               climbing the dirt roads above        until they turn

from the bitteroot valley. So all the crows       and all the prayers       in all the world

may roost       may root       somewhere and all the evening crawlers

who love the earth        may find themselves        lifted there. And so

you speak       to me       ‘of a butterfly that turns back        into a caterpillar

and of a chicken that transforms into an egg       which gives birth

to another chicken.’ And so it turns out       we’ve been here       this whole time.      Each

of us.       With our own elegies and odes.      Immortal       jellyfish      on our own.    

Earthly planets.       Invisible.       Visible       in the right shifts       of light.

Daniel Biegelson is the author of the book of being neighbors (Ricochet Editions) and the chapbook Only the Borrowed Light (VERSE). He currently serves as Director of the Visiting Writers Series at Northwest Missouri State University and as an editor for The Laurel Review. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from DIAGRAM, Interim, MAYDAY, New Orleans Review, Supersition Review, The Glacier & The Shore, among other places.