Mark Kerstetter: Open Call

   The Dance Continues, by Mary Hatch, 1995, oil on canvas, 36” x 28”



Open Call

The Worm:
I can write a poem while lying down naked. It will neither dress me nor reveal me. I can run hot and write cold. Or vice versa. And deep within me I find and put to rout the final trace of you in the leaves of language I have claimed as my own. Use them for whatever costumes you like. I’ll find a way to wriggle free. And have a cold one, knowing the final word escapes.

The Tree:
I am the Poem. All your efforts to escape me come to naught. I have withstood every test and repelled every comer. I stand. Your would-be usurpers are grafts that die like an incompatible organ. The seeds I throw are only duplicates that reaffirm my status, but only if they are strong. I am beyond strong; I set the pattern. Come to my shade, eat of my fruit, exercise on my branches—my giving is infinite.

The Wind:
Escape is irrelevant. Poetry is irrelevant. As all of knowing is to the outside. Inside, you can only fill and go on filling, even though the state of fullness is constant from seedpod to ocean. Fullness is irrelevant, as are all manifestations of fixity, as is manifestation itself. Words are irrelevant. I am through with this dust devil. Do not look for me, I am gone!

The Earth:
It is only natural for you to want to escape, my children. I embrace your leaps. I welcome you back. It’s all good. You have seen the sky and dreamed of the infinite, but I am encircled by the infinite. The infinite is my blanket, and it only perpetuates itself as metaphor in a play of mirrors. The actors and the scenes will change but I am the stage that gives birth to the dance of poetry. Dance today, for tomorrow you will rest.

Mark Kerstetter

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