I reflect. This man is eternally stabbing this other man, as I have never not painted. We are both of us composed, vibrating forever in the dirt among the blunt thumps of men’s heads. Suppose you paint rhythms. Suppose you paint what nature doesn’t do. Then what? Are you seeing the thin line that divides image from nonimage, or are you drawing it? The enigma of a simple object, say a vase or a beekeeper, is its plain beingness, each time the first time. If you do it right, if you go and rip at its root with your teeth. And then, when you are lucky, reality stirs out of nothing like a fledgling wind. I am more interested in what I would paint if I were reborn, if my chance to paint narrowed to a pip, if I were simply or not at all born. In how my solidity’s meat impedes me. I seem always, painfully, just alongside my nubigenous form— … It makes me too nervous to talk about this. I offer no advice, just work at dismantling structure, squiggly line by straight line, color, perspective, texture, the emotion of a face, until you dissipate skin to bone into the picture plane. Just get everything in that exists at this moment—until the next everything. Then get that in. Pierce a man’s throat tip to guard with vigorous equanimity made so much of matter that it wrests you from yourself, and so you are translucent. Try to create a new thing happening to you. A memory of something that has happened to you is not the same as something that is now happening to you. What is now is burning. I reinvented myself three times and the third, well it wasn’t popular. So, you lose friends. But those who are still alive, and I see them occasionally, are still hot. In different ways, moving. Some.
My man fits in the eye of a needle. It’s not snug; there is room even for atmosphere. I leave him air to dream into. Of conquest, if he wishes, or conversion. This New World straddles a hair, so God willing it has the tensile strength of a tree trunk. I forged this figure breathless, in air- bloated pockets, between rush hours, immobile, between the unpredictable charge of dust particles, between each eschatological beat of blood in my fingers. Never mind that in one of his invisible circles of being he has self-hating teeth; promiscuous rage; symmetrical swirls of indelicate hairs on each thigh. Neither of us, as we—shed our stars and suns—abandon gravity, stride into the hub, has the freedom to show our grime. At each step man with his looming climate of fate, be it God or the scantest puff, should spring forth in his very best colors—or he is gray. I exploit motes in salute to the truth, because My infinite soul is already full / With confusing songs and also noises. And my creation an inlargement of the dominion, of the Senses, as when Robert Hooke dispatched his eyes across the glass to colonize, and saw a plow’d field in the edge of a razor. Man is the real technology. Wiggle into the weest fleck of the world just to know it a little, and you will know it colossally. As you can not know a note of Bach until you have shimmied into the core of a violin string, and vibrated there, so you can not know the naos of being except through the mechanical eye. Awhirr in that tunnel accept the true measure of man: hair and dust.
Nic Leigh has had work published in DIAGRAM, UNSAID, The Collagist, and Atticus Review.