Poetry / M.K. Foster
:: Nox Acciderere: Aubade Found Alongside Marian Drew’s Pelican With Turnips ::
Felled by a power line / and dead of a broken / neck, an Australian / pelican
becomes an / unlikely still life in / Brisbane. Once, sometime before morning,
I woke without you and touched / my way to your kitchen. In the dark,
your form, a reminder / of what wind does to mountains; from the sink,
my hair held back / from my face tilted sideways beneath the faucet to
rinse out my mouth, from there: yours, the animal / body frozen-bloody
always in the road at first / light, the one you don’t recognize / until it’s
too late to swerve, until you crush / the head, until after / you don’t stop.
Wouldn’t it be / hilarious, I thought, if I arranged fake fruit around you
while you slept, set a decanter / of pinot noir beside you, your father’s
hunting knife under your palm, if I staged / the streetlight around you
inside crystal figurines and filled the floor at your feet / with broken
glass? It would be / marvelous, wouldn’t it, I thought, if I could make
you— you / pearled into a storm of sheets and fogged with fever, you
blind / with dream and shivering against the mattress, your jaw snapped
over the bed’s ledge— and make you last longer / than you. To turn trag-
edy into tableau, the / photographer made / this image using a / flashlight and a long / exposure—then buried / the bird in her garden.
From the writer
:: Account ::
“Nox Acciderere: Aubade Found Alongside Marian Drew’s Pelican With Turnips” takes into account literary critic Shoshana Felman’s focus on accidents within the event of a testimony of trauma and, in turn, opens itself to become a palimpsest of literal and conceptual accidents in the finding and making of art as part of negotiating loss. By way of initial accidents, the poem takes a “found” framing device in the caption text printed over the corner of photographer Marian Drew’s unusual still-life picture in the November 2014 issue of National Geographic; from there, the poem endeavors to explore ruptures in language and image by way of preserved, then inhabited line breaks—cracks which, at first, speak to the journalistic form, but then, begin to commune with the center-split of the photo spread and, ultimately, the snapped neck of the pelican through the shadows. For the “Nox Acciderere” speaker, then, Drew’s image and its side-text fissure entirely under their own mnemonic weight and cause the speaker’s frame of reference to flood the poem’s center with uninhibited measures of the sublime and the uncanny, as much as grief and hilarity—compounded psychomachian fractures within the poem further splintered only by the larger negative capability at stake in bearing the Latin nox acciderere as both locus and identity of both trauma and testimony: both, then, accident and happening in the night.
M.K. Foster’s poetry won the 2013 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, has been recognized with an Academy of American Poets Prize, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, The Baltimore Review, H.O.W. Journal, B O D Y, The Journal, Ninth Letter, Radar Poetry, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Maryland, College Park and is currently pursuing a PhD in English Literature at the University of Alabama.