DISTANCE LEARNING

 

At the park the statues were the only things more fragile than we had ever imagined.  The ruined art school of Carthage, destruction and its possibilities. I had wanted a photograph in which the landscape becomes seascape, a darkening shore frozen over, the ice just beginning to thaw.  When you found one, you sent it to me.  We both knew that the meaning of the word “gesture” in fine art is twofold:  there is the concept, but also, a physical record of the mind and its movement.  That same day, the mail carrier forgot to fasten the latch when she closed the box, and because of the rain, the letter was ruined by this chance act of carelessness

 

Of course, you’re with someone when I try to call, so you let the receiver fall to the ground.  It won’t be long before the auditorium is empty.  One by one, the lights go out, and I realize I have a question.  Now I’m raising my hand.


THE RECOGNITIONS

 

You almost ruined the conversation when you used the word ascension to describe a desire for money.  Our friend had an enormous glass display filled with what he called “recognitions,” old medals and plaques, so abundant at universities in the spring.  There is no glory for men in their later years.  It buries itself in veracity, a darkening corridor all around us, the brass lock already coming apart in your hands. And so we cross the threshold one breath at a time.  Now it’s as though I’ve entered a room filled with artifacts from someone else’s childhood.  There’s not much significance but plenty of time, you whisper.  The objects spread out indefinitely before us. My only thought is to find the box you convinced me was empty, the one we left somewhere in the snow.

 


TO BE A PART

 

I fasten the latch when I mail the envelope.  The whole time I’m wondering if you’ve done this before.  What was her name and in the morning what did you call her.  As a young girl I had a box of what the other children called “gifts,” but really they were just blank sheets of paper. There’s no such thing as luck. The room just keeps burning until the door is nearly impossible to touch. Now it’s as if the thought of you has become a detail in the landscape. So I climb through the fissure to retrieve a part of the letter that I know is missing, but the entire ledge caves in, and I panic.  I tell the mail carrier not to leave, but there’s a year’s worth of postage due and I haven’t had any work at the office in months.


Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books of poetry. Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University's Kittredge Fund. Her poems and essays appear in The Gettysburg Review, New American Writing, The Mid-American Review, The Iowa Review, The Columbia Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University.