Magdalena Zurawski

  • THE REMAINDERS 

  •  
  • for Duncan and Blaser

 

  • 1.
  •  
  • If you studied business 
  • in school you studied rules and 
  • principles you learned 
  • that business is work done 
  •  
  • by animals a team of horses 
  • will thresh three hundred bushels 
  • a day and even one horse 
  • with a twenty-five-dollar machine 
  •  
  • can be good business a horse 
  • which eats only a moderate quantity 
  • of food will do as much business 
  • as one that eats continually and 
  •  
  • men hired to mend harnesses 
  • must be kept busy mending 
  • harnesses if you are to do good 
  • business a supervisor needs no 
  •  
  • experience he must only consult 
  • analyze and explain the beauty 
  • of business is that there are 
  • many animals to do it for you 
  •  
  • should you not care for horses 
  • several pharmacists will fill 
  • prescriptions all day long and 
  • several doctors will write 
  •  
  • prescriptions for every patient 
  • even a pecan farm if supervised 
  • correctly can be good business 
  • as long as Billy drives the shaker 
  •  
  • through the orchard once 
  • the shuck has split and Jim 
  • sweeps the fallen nuts into 
  • windrows and the harvesters 
  •  
  • follow to load the nuts into 
  • wagons make sure your grade B 
  • nuts are separated out by 
  • quality control “Mammoth Pecans” 
  •  
  • can vary a great deal in 
  • size from one season to
  • the next you will know if
  • you have supervised nut
  •  
  • production well if Jean from Idaho 
  • sends a note stating your packing 
  • and shipping is exceptional
  • business is work done by animals
  •  
  • all the world is an animal a good
  • business man is a zookeeper
  • you learned this in school
  • poetry however is something else

 

  • 2.

I had found the book among the remainders the pages almost empty with words and when I was quiet they heard me and found the little soul inside me large enough to open themselves there into an elsewhere where I resided and often invited you too and one night a single word opened to me to repeat itself as if I were its instrument I was helpless in its cycle it began not unlike a school lesson simple sentences

  •  
  • the weather broke
  • the bough broke
  • my voice broke

that's where it began and it did not stop there my mouth would not tire and it let loose every break it could have known so that at 3 a.m. if you had entered the room you would have found me muttering—

  •  
  • my heart is breaking and my eyes are dim
  •  
  •                   and above me
  •                   the billows break
  •  
  •                                       I have the delusion that no
  •                                       campaign can break
  •                                       the neck of this rebellion
  •                                              
  •                                                 a bank breaks and on every side of me workmen are discharged
  •  
  •                          the hounds break the fox
  •                          while the gentlemen watch
  •  
  • most of their bombs break before they fall and there is no breath of air to break the wave
  •  
  • and so on I spoke until finally the words released me
  • into Virgil and had me thrice utter
  •  
  •                   verse breaks the ground
  •                   verse breaks the ground
  •                   verse breaks the ground
  •  
  • shortly before dawn   I was desperate for sleep

                   when I awoke the world had not changed so I asked myself                             where is it that you choose to live and then in the constellation of trees behind the house I saw a door of light and there I entered and took on the light and felt my elsewhere breaking loose and I said to the world      business is work done by animals but poetry is something else

 

  • 3.
  •  
  • There’s something in a word that remains outside
  • watches the hounds break up a fox
  •  
  •               the weather brought
  •               an injured deer
  •               near the door
  •               so I would
  •               know that our
  •               commonwealth is grief—
  •               the most unstable
  •               element of language—
  •               that vowel unsettled
  •               in the mouth
  •  
  •                                           it had been raining seven days and seven nights and we had grown
  •                         used to sitting in the dark
  •                                           if they had come with their guns I would have told them
  • about the strip mall a bookstore of remainders on metal shelves what’s the shame of poetry
  •               I would have said but no one came

 

  • 4.
  •  
  • and I said to myself that other,
  • Soldier, care for the O in the poem
  • and take on light
  • become astral
  •  
  • but my flesh, Sir,
  • remains here, I said, I am
  • so reasonable it leaves me
  • a failed escape,
  •  
  • Soldier, I said, there is a door
  • a break there in the mountain
  • wall if you will a there there
  •  
  • no, Sir, I said, all the world
  • is an animal and I am an animal and
  • the poem is an animal,
  •  
  • Soldier, I said, I command you to the field
  • I command you to make the words
  • an elsewhere
  •  
  • but, Sir, I said, each time I return
  • to the field I see nothing but animals
  • I know nothing but animals, Sir,
  •  
  • they have made my mind into nothing but animal,
  • Soldier, I command you, lift your snout up
  •  

MAGDALENA ZURAWSKI wrote Companion Animal (Litmus), which won the 2016 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. She is also the author of a novel, The Bruise (FC2). She teaches at the University of Georgia and lives in Athens, Georgia.


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