“the objects one finds”


The following poem is by Brian Dickson from his recent book of poetry: Maybe This is How Tides Work

“The Objects One Finds”

The objects one finds

to envelope a body’s wish:

bolt from the trestle,

Alabama license plate,

scalp ripped from a baseball,

hide hanging by a thrill.

Liter of 7-Up with twine fastened

for a fishing pole in the ravine.

Catfish bate the shore, limitless.

in their mud-glint

Traces of stay, stay,

trailing the twine.

[Aurelio’s remarks] Visiting a new place suddenly brings about the innocent desire to find things. These things might be purchased, or these objects will be sought for amidst the scattered afterlife of commerce. A landscape offers rejected things. These offerings are often of questionable souvenir quality. Still, a day’s meandering search brings moments to be recalled later within a few lines on the clean page. Although trash is regularly overlooked, appreciating its broken edges evokes the memory of that place—where the semi-natural water met the edges of a ravine. Travelling must then mean taking our seeking body from the familiar over to the yet-to-be-found.

And, although trash is mistakenly forgettable, it again is an emblem of where it came from. Trash had a onetime use that is easily let go of. A careful poet attends to these connections and negations. Alabama is not just another state, it is the south. The license plate identifies itself, as much as it emphasizes where it is now, perhaps not too far from where it was thrown. Fallen in there with a bit of torn baseball showing its leather in the water becoming considerably less functional than what it was. How many games was it batted through? How many runs did it make over the fence? The water’s constant flow soaks away this human potential.

A transparent liter bottle repurposed into a clever tool to catch fish elevates itself above the useless. The bottle was already trash before it became an inventive means to catch fish. If we could only turn most castoffs into things that are used longer than the time it takes to drink warm 7-Up. We are infrequently innovative when we have a plastic bottle, string and a hook. We want to be able to see this as ingenuity beyond wastefulness. The dirty twine around the bright green bottle stays sun-bleached, the bottle takes in opaque water, and we take in a subtle mode of living in the south. Seeing this dense water, we aggressively wish to be respectful of the irrepressible catfish that live amidst the wet detritus (human and natural).

Dirt mixed in with water makes muddy this place that’s probably unsuitable for a memorial. Yet we’ve found a tangible link here at the water’s edge. The persistence of the water’s current pulls pieces of what will not stay, and the land’s edge keeps pieces of what cannot go away. We stay there with this poem in mind for another minute, then leave, all the while knowing that the objects, waste, trash, mud, water, fish, plants, and the past linger weeks longer, staying with the redolent brown-green of a place not marked by maps. There too was a humid southern landscape full of objects, and once-having-been-there.

…& thank you again Brian,


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