MusingWith: Poem & Responses

A diagram: five shades of turquoise

Patricia Ticineto Clough


My great auntie grew morning glories
in stone pots, propped
up on brick risers at the side of the steps
leading to the front door.
Once I pulled one of the little flowers
off its stem.
It felt thick and velvety between my fingers.
But it bruised to the touch.
The flower became lifeless; the velvet thickness proved ephemeral.
Bruised by touch.  I thought this was just (like) life.



I alone here too
Not even a memory of a someone once
How did I become that?
A woman without memory of another.
Yet, there still is for me, for us
A start of a poem, a precipitate form to be filled
Like the hallowness of the cactus tree
in the dry thirsty desert.



She brought home silver jewelry with turquoise stones
Rings, bracelets and earrings.
From the desert. They stopped on the way to Las Vegas
and saw the desert in bloom.
She spoke of the beauty
And it seemed to ease the hatred that usually twisted her face.
Only that once.
She told me of the beauty without halting, without taking it back.
Straight out beautiful. Only that once.
I wished the moment would never end
Maybe she would see me: adorned in turquoise, just for her, a desert



The micro connections between us and the dead,
Her and me, are anything
but comforting. Returning
an archetype: the mother of mean spirits.
Yet, she demands a crown.
What flowers to make it for her head?
Cacti needles, golden, turned dark brown
A crown of thorns without chance of resurrection.



Her afterlife: lingering ghost.
Not behind me
An horizon. What is that?
The philosopher-poet of geometry answers pointing to the
exasperating side of the horizon: corrosive like the visible, tenacious
like a smell, compromising like touch, it does not dress things up with
appearances but impregnates everything that we are resolved to grasp. 1



And they were dancing.
The movement, the waves of motion, a sensation of contact.
She in a salmon colored silk gown and he in black patent leather shoes
They were dancing to the big band music of those times, their times.
The movement, the motion, like wind blowing on me.
Soft, delicate and fast. The fast foot work of the Peabody.
And they were dancing in those times, in time: smooth, light, carefree.
Until a bit off beat, a tangle of feet, she slips and falls.
He goes down with her, landing on his knee. Slow motion to dead time.
Then suddenly.
She spits words of distain directed at him
Sending a ripple of violence through the elegant choreography of the

Remembering to forget,
my eyes squint against the light.
My ears refuse to function. The music and dance steps,
the rhythms and resonances become gestural features of an abstract

What is that?
The philosopher poet of geometry answers: Diagrams capture gestures mid flight for those capable of attention. If it immobilizes a gesture in order to set down an operation, it does so by sketching a gesture that then cuts out another, receptive to the pressure of the virtual. The diagram shows that ontological measurement is not a simple external observable, but the living relationship that intermingles an intensity and two extensive quantities. The diagram makes it possible to seek solace in the mundane plotting of its thick lines.2

1 This text is from Gilles Chatelet’s Figuring Space: Philosophy, Mathematics and Physics (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000)
2 This text also is from Chatelet’s text.


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