On Your Appearance in Literature
You spoke to me some time ago
For some time.
You may be speaking to me still.
I don't mean that—
or any of this—
but perhaps – literarily.
I had just finished reading
Paradise Lost or His Dark Materials or
Some combination of the two—
Which the latter is already
(only ONE of the ways literature defies physics);
It was a dream;
Most things are.
You said to me: "Boy, look at me."
I looked at what I thought was You
Although the fact that I could
Look at You means it wasn't You.
I said: “I am here.”
You said: "Do
Look like someone who
Could be destroyed by a Subtle Knife?"
"You do," I said,
"But that's only because what
I see and what I know are different things.
"If there were such a thing as a Subtle Knife—
And there isn't, right?”
And here, I dart a worried glance
Which You answer with a
Bemusedly indulgent shake of the head—
"If there were,
You would be
as its Creator.
"So even Paradise Lost
And its literary roots
Are just silly.
It's a foregone conclusion, sure,
But the fact that it’s a story at all
Means that it's not quite
A foregone conclusion,
The notion of which is absurd."
"People hit things when they're angry,"
You said, "even when they
Don't expect them to give."
"Since when do You use contractions?" I said.
"Since when do
Have a tail and whiskers, for that matter?"
And I looked and behold!
I had envisioned You as a giant housecat.
"I guess You‘re meant to
but in an unselfconscious way,"
I said, "which
when you think about it
chokes on its own paradox."
"Everything does," You responded.
Feel, who do think about it."
"Anyway, yeah. People hit things
when they're angry and that's as
close as You get to a
between lashing out and lashing in--"
"Raskolnikov and Tarquin take note," You purred.
"But," I continued
over Your interruption,
"The idea that angels have personalities
and such, like people,
is pretty Hellenistic."
"Well, maybe angels behave like people
'm a cat,"
"But there are people who believe this shit like it was..."
"In the Bible?"
"You make me laugh, You know?"
"How else would You laugh?"
"Why don’t more people see this side of You?"
"Why don't you see every other side of me?"
"You're worse than Freud."
"How would You know?
Mind, you didn’t finish exhonerating
Milton in your mind,
which you were about to do.”
"Oh, like he needs me to
say nice things about him or he’ll cry?
Anyway, You're worse than
my mother, who's a Freudian."
"Again, how would you know?
No, he doesn’t, but the only way
you can read anything
is by making
it a part of your thoughts
and so by arguing with him,
you argue with yourself."
"And so I need to finish
the argument to reconcile
with myself? I have arguments
with myself all the time which
I don’t finish. Why should I treat
him-as-me better than I treat
"You’re worse than Proust."
"How would You--