from Cantos


A magic glass that forms the distant worlds. Or. A device for making faraway seem near. A photon bucket for collecting streams of discrete particles having zero mass, no electric charge, and infinitely long lifetimes. As. Above the height of mountains interposed, by what strange Parallax, or optic skill of vision, multiplied through air. Not exactly. Or. Never. But. If the instrument can render seeable the unseeable and obvious the imperceptible, you put the balloon to your right eye and number the moons of Jupiter. You. Discover the rings of Saturn. Name the monstrous mountains of the lunar craters and witness black spots on the sun. While I, eclipsed by real proximity to your squinting left, wonder whether it be light or it be years that stand between.

Naturally, an objective lens set in a tube to focus the light from the astral plane. And. An eyepiece that grows the plane and brings the stars into view. Smaller hand scopes consist of two or more tubes made to slide within one another for convenience of packing in a narrow compass. Or. For tuning the zoom. But. There are reflectors and there are refractors. And. If the Kid’s Kaleidoscope can offer the childish perspective, I wish I could shut up like the telescope. Fold my body in the palm of your lined hand. I demand my memory should use the telescope. For. I am trying hard to re-member myself. Or. I am trying hard to recall what it is to tell. As. The witness of space is one. The witness of me, on other hand.

To combine. To compress. To condense. To conflate and shorten by constriction . To force or drive into another, other, a something else, said of railway carriages that collide. As. The express train ran into the locomotive thereby telescoping the baggage wagons. And. They telescoped like cars in railroad smashes. For. As you watch convexly the whirling oceans of your heavenly bodies, the proximate corpus collides. I see through this glass so darkly. For. It is I who am perpetually condemned to marry the mountains. Or. To marry the men who repeatedly die.



An instrument for carrying noise to a distance. Or. A mechanical device based on sound transportation. Or. An apparatus for conveying signals by means of electric speak. Or. A system of signaling by musical notes. As. A wind instrument like a fog-horn used on ships and trains for communicating loud harmonic notes. Like, The Marine Alarum and The Signal Trumpet. And. Pipes in which free tongues are acted upon by shallow breezes. Where. Air is admitted by means of a valve acted upon. By the needle of an electromagnet. Or. Air is released from a narrow orifice and divided. Upon a sharp edge. And. For. And. But. If the telephonic instrument can carry your voice over the diametrical distance of 7000 miles, I toss a pebble into this still pool. Then. I hear this tiny far-traveling tsunami die soundlessly in my mind. As there. So here. For. I hear your words. And. Your words have hammer. Or. Your voice has the madness of the metronome.

A tube for conveying the noise of ulterior voices. Among these are speaking tubes. For. We are, it seems, able to speak to the faraway places without any connection at all. As. Across the inner quadrangles of the cordiform building, for example. By means of a gutta-percha reflector.

A wonder of wonders. A lovers’ tale. A stringed instrument. A child’s toy, consisting of two stretched membranes connected by a tense cord that transmits sound waves. Or. Connected by tension. Of. The past and its future. For. When I put my mouth to this membrane, you put your ear where? The game whose purpose is to efface the message as opposed to preserve it. As. My favorite flower is the rose. Then. Our Father has no nose.

A bell, a call, a dial. Drum, drum, drum. An extension, a booth, a box. But. If the telephonic instrument can carry your voice over the diametrical distance between us, my cord is off at the root. And. My voice can’t worm. In other words, if the systemic soundness can be carried, I was born without discrimination or judgment. And. When the ring rings, there is someone on the telephoneforgiveme. Or. A man-made machine answers with a man-made voice. As. Please speak clearly. Please speak now. But. You’re not on the telephone now.



A tube bent so that one leg is longer than the other. Used for drawing off liquids by means of. Atmospheric pressure. As. Which forces fluid up the shorter leg then over the bend. Or. A channel through which the passage of water becomes possible. Impossible. As. A fire bucket. Or. A vessel made of tanned hides which carries the water to quench the fire raging amongst the Dwelling Houses. And. If the flow of fluid results from atmospheric pressure, you, again, put the tube in my mouth. You. Force the tube through the esophagus of my alimentary canal. And. Into my silver stomach. Then. You watch the heavy yellow liquor come up out from my insides. While I. Ask with unfinished fever. How can you do this to me?

You say. Fill a tube with fluid. Then. Pinch the two ends with your fingers. Put one end in the water bucket up above. Or. The exalted body on the bed. Then. Put the other end down below by the bed-skirt. In the infernal trenches. Unpinch your fingers and watch as your viscous insides flow through the tube and out your rounded mouth. With such soft sucking sounds. For. All the fervor of which you are capable I siphon off into my army. And. I depend on the integration of the illicit functions that prostitution siphons off.

To drain, to bankrupt, and to bleed. Or. To empty and fatigue. For. If the flow of fluid results from atmospheric pressure, the thing may be also called an attracting engine. As. You ask. What do you expect from me? And. I reply. My guess is you are Birdsong. You sing these lullabies. I fall to sleep. For. The ebb and flow of springs sound like they are sung by the your wondrous siphon.



Emptiness of space. And. A place unoccupied by substance. And. An area empty of air. Especially one from which air has been artificially withdrawn. And. A void. Unoccupied or unfilled by natural contents. But. As men have tried their best to achieve that bit of space without matter. Our Mother. Or. The trunks of all substantive trees. It is as the old saying goes. Mother Nature does abhor. And. When men set out to create this impossibility, Mother Nature sets out to fill it up. For. If the suction pump fails in the artificial effort, you endeavor to put your mouth to mine. Inhale the air from the space inside me. And. Make my lungs into rounded unfilled sacks. While I. Remembering the vacuum of your pupils, endeavor to fill myself up with our unrecorded past. For. Emptiness is not in the world. And. Larks from more adjacent parts do crowd.

Hear the pop of the broken bulb. Pull the cork from the bottle of burgundy. Push a pin in the blown balloon. For. The nightly noise of thunder. Lightning as it flashes. And. The air that collapses in and upon itself. Does clap. Who is my audience? For. This time I dispute against Democritus who believed the World was made by the casual concourse of atoms in a giant vacuum.

No matter. It is the house that aches. For. You have forgotten the nests of birds. The limbs of erupting trees. You must see that I am. And. If the suction pump of your affection fails in the artificial effort, you must see that I matter.

With aspiration, a method of terminating pregnancy. With extractor, a cup-shaped appliance to assist a baby in its birth. With cleaner, a device for the removal of. Ashes to ashes. Mouth to mouth. Our past haunts. Empty rooms of. This is my body brick. And. If the suction pump of your affection fails in the artificial effort, you aspire to exhaust me. But. The void of me you so desire. Is impossible to produce. For. This time it is you who fills the vessel of my matterlessness.



Van Guericke’s little weather man. Or. A tube of brass and glass dipped in a basin of water. Or. Mercury. Which rises higher in fairer weather and falls within the storm. The work of muttering magicians. Or. An instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure. As. The aneroid barometer. A portable device that measures pressure not by the heights of Mercury but by its action on the lid. Of. The hermetically sealed box. But. If the pocket aneroid resembles a watch in its appearance, you strap the barometer onto your wrist. Strap my body on to yours. Leap out from the sky-writing plane. And. Fall. For.

Take a tube a yard long, close it at one end and fill it with Mercury. God of travel and of thievery. Close the tube at one end and invert it in a vessel. You will soon see that very few drops will drop out. As. The atmosphere pressing upon the surface supports the weight of the Mercury. And. If there is a difference between the atmosphere. And. The apocalypse of your falling body. I ask you to stop pressing yourself upon. Me.

There you see the city of rain. There, the pink structures of its politic. Here. My widening wound. Or. My wide remorse for time. For. Hallowed be thy name. Your barometer. Six. Five. Four. Is falling. For. If the pocket aneroid resembles a watch in its appearance, glycerine can used in place of Mercury for exacter readings. As. Sweet syrupy fluid obtained from fats by. Saponification. And. You must now see. We are running out of time. For. The barometer was first made public by the nobler searchers of nature. And. Your fob. Like a barometer. Shows the temper of your beating heart. As. An indicator of fluctuations. Or. A standard for comparison. Both the benchmark and the touchstone. The yardstick and the paradigm. Are we diving? Or am I dying? For. This time, the child just dreams. Of parachutes. In bloom.

Sandy Florian earned her MFA from Brown University’s Creative Writing Program and is a current candidate at the University of Denver for a PhD in English and Creative Writing. Other excerpts from this novella, Cantos: A Recollection, appear or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, 42 Opus, Copper Nickel, Word For/Word, Upstairs at Duroc, Segue, Versal, and The Encyclopedia Project. Her short stories and excerpts from other novellas have appeared in Horse Less Review, Identity Theory, Square Lake, Beehive, Elixir, dANDelion, The Brooklyn Rail, Issues, Blastie, and Women’s Work.


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