Film of the Build­ing of a Cof­fin Viewed in Re­verse

New England Review - - Translations - Austin Smith

The lit­tle tacks that pinned the satin in fall out like baby teeth. The satin passes back through its fan­tasy of be­com­ing a prom dress, all the way back to the silk­worms in the mul­berry. The pil­low blows apart and the down darts back into the plucked goose. The black lab swims back­wards with the bird in his mouth: the goose flut­ters up into the sky and flies back­wards with the flock into the north coun­try as the shell in­hales the lead shot and the shell it­self re­turns to the oiled dark of the gun. The ham­mer kisses the nails back out of the wood. The nails pass from his white lips to his dark pock­ets. The screws spin out on the roads of brass and the boards part ways. The boards, of heavy ash, lay stacked along the wall for a night. The hands of the clock over the work­bench spin coun­ter­clock­wise. Come morn­ing the boards re­turn to the mill and con­verge into trees that float back into the woods in search of their stumps like the phan­tom limbs of am­putees. They know which ones are theirs by the rings, swing up onto them and heal. The birds that were scared off by the roar of the chain­saw come back. The dead man gets up off the floor and his bro­ken cup be­comes whole again. He puts it to his lips and fills it with cof­fee from his mouth, cof­fee that grows hot­ter and blacker.

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