Mudlark No. 44 (2011)

Roll Call

Present! sang time and light in their ethereally tingling doppelganger-voices.
Present! crackled the Big and Little Ice Ages to whose status all things niveous continually
Present! chorused seemingly innumerable safety matches, dollhouse dictionaries, flasks of
    absinthe and  vats of Campbell’s cream-of-mushroom soup—also, Present! asserted 
    The Death of Ivan Ilyich, the Peloponnesian Wars, etc. 
Present! boomed the Chinese elm just outside my kitchen window in its indelibly silent
     tree voice, and  
Present! chorused all the various versions of you and me and all our forebears and descendents
     in our multitudinous, incandescent voices.
But what was missing? 

Nothing itself was missing!   

That’s why Everything was jammed up together in such a collapsedly claustrophobic
astonishing that any of the above entities was even able to respond at all, let alone with the word
    present rather than with a yo! or a mere grunt. 

Since time had not yet unfurled its potentialities,
we can’t accurately claim that Nothing was “late,”
but we can speculate that it found itself in some pre-existent version of “elsewhere,”
a failure constituting the very first trauma, which it vowed must never occur again 
(and this is why so many people complain about an actual excess of Nothing—
after all, why should Nothing be exempt from what developmental psychologists describe as 
    “the compensatory compulsion”?). 

At any rate, where Nothing had not been, it “suddenly” appeared,
so Everything then flourished outward into fullness, flying apart to become appropriately
and breathing the sigh of relief 
that had not been held in. 

Claire Bateman | Mudlark No. 44 (2011)
Contents | Seminar: The Trouble with the Text (a poem for many voices)