Details can be so trivial Published by Notes (Cambridge), May 2017

She, a writer, was trying to remember

what had prompted a fictional character

whose traces–strewn across fragments

of story ideas–had been left unused.

The notes were themselves intriguing:

in lucid, impassioned and provocative prose,

she had written all that

she had wanted this voiceless character to say

(or, precisely what the character had left unsaid).

But she could not, as hard as she tried,

reconnect with the ideas from which the fragments arose

nor the thoughts from which those ideas stemmed

(some of all the most intense memories

come completely without sound).


Details can be so trivial, she thought,

while continuing to flick through the pages.




The young artist and the train Published by Notes (Cambridge) December 2016

I once met a young artist

who played her nerve with a train, and won.

Determined to oppose its motion, she watched

as the embryonic train (like an idea)

grew in the vanishing point.


It’s an achievement whatever the outcome,

she thought: it was about resistance.

By now, convinced of her own sublimity,

all sound became silence and

she heard the sound of purpose.


Had the conductor not realised,

she certainly would have been obliterated into abstraction

(though she still would have won for not jumping aside).

Their collision was slow enough to spare her life

and fast enough only to knock her onto soft grass.


The enraged conductor started with shouting,

but seeing that the silent young artist had tears in her eyes

he felt pity (he too had been depressed once

and had tried something silly)

and was moved to tears by the lightness of mortality–


(her tears were, meanwhile, of the joy of newfound immortality)

He begged her not to throw her life away

for she had much yet to see of the world.

But silently seeing means living in solitude, she thought–

only ideas gain you momentous solidarity (like a train).


The young artist’s tears were, of course,

from the well of her own profound union with truth–

a prerogative to which only the few have access

(the conductor, the fool, never knew

the absurdness of his train).