Nox Acciderere: Aubade Found Alongside Marian Drew’s Pelican With Turnips

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.