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Darwinist Logic on Unrequited Love


To begin with the end, what the rain
       did not uncover. A teacup overflows,
we call it a spill; a riverbed overflows, we
       call it a flood, what it is to be

swept away. Great is the power of steady
       misrepresentation
, writes Darwin. I like
things that light up on their own—
       the headlights on my new car when we

drive under a bridge. I like how
       it doesn't distinguish between different types
of darkness. Darwin again: I am not
       the least afraid to die
. Well,

I burned my thumb last night
       on the kettle, distracted
by the buzzing of my phone—
       my mother again. There is still some pleasure

in dissection—what admirably
       well-adapted movements
the tip of a root possesses
. I like things
       that come apart easily

in my hands—dried leaves, clumps of sugar—
       Do you remember, before wireless,
when to unplug meant getting
       on your knees to jerk the cord from the wall? Now

if you want to disconnect,
       you have to ask nicely. Off/on;
let go/resurrect—the game your mind plays
       in dreams, holding him up—no, a simulacrum

slipping its cage in my consciousness. Daytime
       calls me to wakefulness, its dog home
from the walk, from the bewildering folly
       of weather. Turns out these purple statices

on the dresser stand for
       remembrance but I don't need
any help remembering. They are right
       in front of me—they have fully loaded.


Katie Willingham

Unlikely Designs
The University of Chicago Press


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