We were speaking of descent.
                                      Alright then: smoke in the living room. 
                                                                           Of generation.
                                                                                                    Moving forward, turning back.

I made notes on Cixous—out of the world (immundus)—but kept thinking out of the mouth, like
a cherry pit, like a tuft of hair.

What world, I ask. And whose lips moving?

          Words made up of parts. Days made up of false cognates. 

                                                        I was trying to remember something. Lost again, my thinking.
Why did I turn away? 
                          Familiar shrinking from the textures of the living. Juices swilled below the palate.

When my love tried to feed me something, I recoiled. Place not a precious morsel in my mouth.

                          That I may be a body. That I may incorporate another.

When I say wet, when I say gnash, when I say need, when I say fodder.

                          For humans, use the verb to eat. For animals, to feed. 

Tried to imagine places I knew well.

                                              Up the mountain to Bartlett Falls. But no, the directions were all wrong.

To spread without direction, was that life? The morning glory pulling its way across stone wall,  metal gate, the young trees, and the dead.

There’s a name for its seeds that means “round thing.” O mouth, O moon, O mound, O pit.



The tip of the tongue, the teeth, and the lips. 

Too breathy, said the voice teacher, unsmiling and accurate.

                                 This is a glacial lake in the Northeast Kingdom. Vermont. Late summer, 2018.

To go further into the world will not lead you out of it.

            Should the eyes roll back into the head, should you enter through the mouth,
            should you impact, become ingrown, you will have found the exit.

When I say drip, when I say pit, when I say seed.

            Should you imbibe, cough up, inhale.

I’ve watched great lights, sharp puffs of air, near breathlessness, the body seized by laughter.

                        To repeat after them, and repeat after them.

Too timid, said my love, warm and teasing.


I’ve watched great lights go out.

An old friend called me yesterday after nearly ten years, agitated, not entirely coherent. Nothing
to do. People fall away.

            Coherence made of memories. Bodies made of traits.

Great lights.

            Lung: (of germanic root) the light organ. Image of the bronchi. A tree with
            branches growing downward.

Why did I turn away?

                        Sinewy grip. The strangler fig’s vines around a trunk.

                                            A hand reaching for green lake water. To look back and call it safety.

I lost a friend. What I lost, I missed. I did not like what I got back.

                          Where was I all that time? And when?

            And who called out? And, do you read me now?

O apostrophe! O transaction!

          Cut grass, dream of a lossless transmission.

O violence! O waning!

          From roaring laughter in the front seat, to a voice on the answering machine.

O aspiration!

          To nothing. To a song we used to sing. Laughing, reaching for the high notes.

                To repeat after and repeat.

          Should I descend? Do I relate?

O risk! O rupture! O wither! O weather!

                    Heaped hastily heaved and headlong half-gone hail hulled and holding up

To swallow. Lo, to breathe.

Alexandria Hall is the author of Field Music, a winner of the National Poetry Series. She hold an MFA from NYU and is a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at USC. She is a founding editor of Tele- and co-host of You Shouldn’t Let Poets Lie to You. She lives in Los Angeles.