Five Points, Vol. 7 No. 1

Spring 2003

From Madison Smartt Bell, “Once I finish this book, I may start touring music. I don’t know what I am going to do. In all probability I am going to have my usual day job.”

Sample Content

Edward Hirsch
The Evanescence

(after Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, #858)


The day was green and abstract
Like looking at a field from a shaking train

With yellow light smudged
And smeared in the distance.

The dark trees blurred in the wind
And the earth was always rushing past.


How the windswept beach at dawn
Resembled Abraham’s dream:

He carried a small body
Trembling in his arms,

A sweet kid dipped in blood
For a terrible meat-eating God.


The morning was still bruised
By the lingering memory of darkness,

But the gulls—the bloodthirsty gulls—
Called us back to the shore.

Walk with me a while
In the black-and-blue wake of night.


The clouds dissolved in the sky
Over the scumbling waves.

A beach littered with debris,
A sky scribbled with erasures,

And a watery sun floating away.
How does anyone ever sleep?


I glimpsed a yellow-beaked redbird—
Radiant, luminescent—

Tilting on one wing
And skimming the shoreline

Just as it was getting dark.
Look. I swear I saw it.


I dreamt of a German forest
Dissolving into a red sea.

There were insect creatures
Chasing us, there were metallic birds…

The sea parted for us, love,
But then it was soaked in blood.


I stood at the Memorial Wall at dusk
And pictured the barbed-wire fences.

The air was thick with testimonies
Written in red ink.

I had not witnessed the violence,
But violence remembered me.


The world was rushing by so fast
That we felt dizzy studying it.

The day was gray and abstract
Like looking at the sky from a shaking train.

We had brushed against the light,
We had been brushed by evanescence.