Poetry Reading: Navigating the underCurrents Susan Calvillo



Susan Calvillo is a Chinese- and Mexican-American poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in West Wind Review, New American Writing, Zyzzyva, LUMINA, Davis Poetry Anthology, Gesture Zine, and others. An excerpt of her Dual Duel poetry collection received an honorable mention from The Academy of American Poets for the Harold Taylor Prize. More of her work can be found at PotentialCadavers.blogspot.com.
Susan Calvillo reads “Response to Installation by Stella Zheng”

Response to Installation by Stella Zheng
By Susan Calvillo

Please
Don’t be offended
If I expose you
For the egg that you are
The little being inside you
Desperate to hatch
Unintended to ever
Break your own shell
You are the product
Of one lover or another
Yet who was loved
Or what
Or for how long
Who knows
Does it matter anymore
After you’ve come so far

It wouldn’t be right
To define you
By your parts
Things should be taken
As a whole
From time to time
To yet another time
But one day a child
Arrived with a glass jar
Filled with only an inch left
To the brim of toothpicks
She said This is the universe
And all God’s people
There’s no hand in it
But as the universe shifts
The people touch each other
Sometimes just barely
Each in their own way
And she rotated the glass
In her hands and the toothpicks
Fell against one another
They seemed not really
To be moving at all
Or seemed to be moving
Only en masse
But truly as her fingerprints
Danced along the edges of the universe
Each toothpick pushed and lanced
Cornered and angled away from the rest
But also tugged at others
By their splinters
By warmth and wood
Through this glancing of grain
All the toothpicks moved
All other toothpicks
Even at a distance
Touching without touching

What happens in the space
Between toothpicks
Between collective and glass case
Between the glass’s orbit and its shaker
Between her hands and her maker
What happens in the space
Between the yolk and its soft shell
Between the shell and its teeth
Is the yolk not the mere potential
For yet another egg
Is the shell not both protecting and prohibitive
Are the teeth not a collection
Of one fanged determinant
There are spaces between all spaces
The nonexistences the indescribables
They are the places we forget when we look away

There exists the “uncertainty principle”
Imagine a moving particle
Its position and its momentum
To pinpoint its position
Is to lose track of its momentum
To calculate its momentum
Is to blur the vision of its position
These measurements cannot be made simultaneously
We can understand it this way and that
But only at one time or another
We cannot observe the object without altering the object

And it wouldn’t be right
To define you
As the needles in the nest
As the egg in the haystack
That you are
For you aren’t
More than the mere potential
The possibility of a sandbag
That if opened on a beach
Would swiftly in wind
Be unable to be pinned by
Position or momentum
And would fall under sway by
The grains of sand
What good is a metronome without momentum
What good is an opinion without position
How might the empty hourglass keep time on the beach

You are pinching
You are pointing
As the spheres of this universe
Pinch spaces between spaces
Point out invisible pulls
Loosely follow orbits
At terrifying speeds
As the particle shudders
At terrifying speeds
And holds still
At the same time
In relation to you
You who have emerged
From phallus
From fabric
From fold
From toothpicks
Positioned
In constant motion
Unmoving in this moment
Behind glass
Encasing us all

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