from Certain Measures, Certain Meanings

(a meditation on Wittgenstein’s “On Certainty”)

I
Lichen on rocks
algae and thallus
the entanglement of two
a symbiosis.
What is it then to know
one’s hand
another’s?             The granting of
the wrist, the rest?
To know rest,
its abundance, imbibe the scene: a countryside, this stretch of
bump and fence, lines that ride along beside
the car in silence.
The subject can’t be proved
its residence is past postulate,
its presence: experienced
as breath on the cheeks and neck
from a crowd at a distance
in silence.
One may be no more
certain
than the self
from its seeming to be. We follow
a course, perhaps to be sure,
to clasp and be clasped, engaged with an occasion,
that desired sense of being, as
wind and leaves expand there
the praxis of place.
When in doubt, look closer,
make place in the absence.
II
One may balance loyalty and doubt,
as a razor on a mirror
but certainty often tips the scale severe
leaves Dike crestfallen.     A mob gathers,
drawn and quartered by foreclosure of the subject. The difference between
a concept album and a major label deal, akin
to the distance between singer and song.
In the brick hours of belief, there are deep green leaves on the loping branches
of a grand arbor; belief — alive and external
a tree bearing ripened apples,
the material knowledge of being.
‘I know’ describes a state of affairs
I hear the chain-rattle of my tiny carriage
cupboards and curiosities
filled with times and places I’ll never arrive,
but the cold draft
on the back awakes me to the present.
The occasional surfacing
of the memory-borne, the small, careful, and particular
moments form a ledge to rest the present on for a while,
a forgotten line of dots and facts
fallen off the back of the carriage along the way.
The hand scarred,
a memory growing from present to perfect
on its way past participle.

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