“The History I’m Living In Right Now!” by Kent Shaw

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Poetry by Kent Shaw from our Spring 2017 issue.

I was at a gallery in Europe where part of the exhibit required the corners of a room be removed.
The room was located in the middle of history.
Like there was one history that could happen to you in this room.
A constant history, like when a sculptor is cupping more clay onto your body,
so the underneath part of you starts to feel like an artifact.
But all you can think is what would it possibly mean if a part of your body was dug up out of your body?
And someone was saying, “Look. This was a part of your body!”

The gallery was showing the model of a city submerged and then periodically risen from the depths
so the water could cascade down the sides of buildings
and completely drench the models of fully grown trees.
Somewhere in that city is a model of you. With two pieces of coal for your eyes.
We’re just about to meet. But, then, we’re always about to meet, which is very exciting for the sculpture.
And especially us!

The fact is I didn’t want to leave this room.
Because I like looking at a sculpture of me where I’m looking so casual.
Oh, look! A city has just been raised from the bottom of a body of water.
It is a constant history. With hands involved cupping my various body parts.
Careful hands around the careful body parts, please.

Hands willing to write about this room for me.
I’m in a pleasurable moment right now. Please, don’t interrupt.
History is now. And then now. It’s still happening now. And it appears it’s all about me.
Do you hear the engines beneath the model of the city giving out?
Don’t let them.
You and I are almost about to meet at the corner.
How much our history will change then! Were we almost about to change just a moment ago?
How much I’m dreading anything that will change what I’m doing right now.
All these hands touching in all the right places!

Image: Minchell, Peter. “Destruction of Atlantis.” 1972. Watercolor and pencil on paper. The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

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