She sits by the reeds and reads. The water flows by, bluish, burbling, past the hedge of sedges. She leans on a bush, a shrub; behind is the brush land, subfusc, scumbled with stubble and rubble. But words grow even here. Words flow from the water; words grow in the tall grass, the cattails, these bulrushes. Grow? Well, she doesn’t know. They catch them, the words, and she plucks them out and dines with her eyes and mind.
Does she have the right to seize the incipient words? Is it not bullish, hubristic? An act of piracy, or papyrusy? Were they not meant for bigger things? Ought she not to blush?
She would sooner shrug. Send not to know for whom the words flow; they flow for thee, and they are filtered by these bulrushes. The water rushes them along and they are caught in the rushes, like the dailies from filming: words upon words. She needs no rush of motion; this other rush, that says hush as it soughs in the breeze, is only a coincidence of sound: a plant. Who planted it? Oh, these things just grow. They grow large, large as bulls.
And she grows, grows old, second by second, watches time and the words pass, reads by the reeds, reads the reeds. She does not seek a knot in a bulrush, as the Romans said: I mean, she does not look to make difficulty where there was none. But there are knots, and involutions, and forms that hold different senses, and Möbius strips of bulrushes. Thefts of form: piracy, papyrusy. She recalls “The Pipe-Player” by Sir Edward William Gosse:
Cool, and palm-shaded from the torrid heat,
The young brown tenor puts his singing by,
And sets the twin pipe to his lips to try
Some air of bulrush-glooms where lovers meet;
O swart musician, time and fame are fleet,
Brief all delight, and youth’s feet fain to fly!
Pipe on in peace! To-morrow must we die?
What matter, if our life to-day be sweet!
Soon, soon, the silver paper-reeds that sigh
Along the Sacred River will repeat
The echo of the dark-stoled bearers’ feet,
Who carry you, with wailing, where must lie
Your swarthed and withered body, by and by
In perfumed darkness with the grains of wheat.
Time will roll on, but every moment is a new birth. She has been impregnated by Etaoin Shrdlu, an act of lexical intercourse, and her gravid thoughts spawn new language, but still she wants a word that has some flesh.
Oh, the words are solid enough. When they are caught by the papyrus – this is what bulrush means here; there are so many things bulrush can mean, cattails, other sedges at the edges of bodies of water – when they are caught by the papyrus, they are visible, they darken the nature. But their every movement is a dance in her own mind. What she desires more is a new breath. Her word-love, the Morpheus of morphemes, uses only hers. And this Morpheus is a Möbius Morpheus, for he can hold the same form and change who he is. So she, holding her form, seeks to change who she is, by extending herself… to whom?
And then she hears a brushing, not a susurrus but a friction, as of paper, or future paper, rubbing against more of the same. She leans, kneels, walks on hands and knees, pushes aside the bulrushes. And sees a small boat, a boat made of bulrushes. A little papyrus ship, with a passenger, barely three months old. Not yet speaking. But so many words to come, inchoate, borne on this potential paper, breathing. What you may find in the bulrushes.
“Moses,” to give your circumlocutions a name…
Or maybe someone rather like him…
Never heard of Gosse before. The six lines to the end are … final.
Why the commas? I guess there’s internal rhythm to be satisfied, but the rush to the end shouldn’t be interrupted.
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