I approached the unapproachable
memory. Dandelion spores disperse
into a yellow afternoon where you
were not. I could not approach
the memory. The body of the memory
refused me. I refused its refusal. Pollinated sky.
Turning. Noticing. Unbeing without erasing. Adding
only. What cannot be thought. Absence only
is infinite. Soil. The land is a body. What I sought
to remember receded. It did not happen. Seeded
from spores. Would not be remembered. If the land is a body.
I had the dictionary in my hand but the words receded.
Cloudless billowing. Ceding. What cannot be thought?
What cannot be remembered cannot be thought. The land. The land is a body
or bodies with memory etched into them. Airless. If the land is a body, memory
etches into it without permission. The river etched against the walls built
to impede it. We walk along the path. Obstructed. The body the land
is emerges from beneath the anchoring horizon. What is visible
is what that body makes. Ridged passages. Obstructions make
a horizon. As if the body were under the surface rather
than draped over it. Rather than radiating from it.
Breathing it. When I say ‘river’ do you think I
mean just any river? When you read ‘river’
whose body do you think of?
Whose hands? Whose air?
‘Undocumentation’, I called the ferociously unmatched grey on grey on concrete
underscoring while invisibilising the graffiti in the scored concrete construct
of the bed of the river whose sediment is an unsettling slithering silky through
a city of silt. Billowing wordless sifting.
The memory was an empty outline.
By the time I reached it, it had died, become
a dream dreamt by a person I could not
trace, someone outside my orbit, tentacles
of light glimmering starless faintly then fading
as if to gesture toward the unfaded absence that forms
a mountainous body along a vanishing green horizon.
The memory always was going to die or had already
and that was when I started looking for it. The river
was re-routed to make way for a bridge over the newly
constructed path of the river whose path had been made
to accommodate the bridge and before it the dry floodplain.
And so on, until the only memory left was right before
our eyes, bright orange and not really a memory at all.
A right of way or passage or easement. Where the river
had run, now mud and oily runoff, memory’s reflection.
Just the shadow was left after the erasure of experience.
A shopping cart become a small dam. An outline whose seeds
blew away in the slightest wind.
The memory in the palm
of my hand, the left
one with the scar across
the lifeline, fuzzy riverweeds just
out of reach. A cloudless
countdown with exactly zero numbers.
Plumb spectral memory
as memory’s body
disappears. Haunt responsibility
floating directionless joy
raspy static on the channel.
Static in the riverbed
uncountable tenderness encountering
Words are narrow. Fungal. Capillary.
The chair holds the memory. Ashen.
‘Unremembering’ is the second in a series of three contributions by Jen/Eleana Hofer to A Year of Carte Blanche and Other Chimeras. You can read the first contribution here.
Jen/Eleana Hofer (they/ellx) is a poet, translator, social justice interpreter, teacher, facilitator, urban cyclist, and co-founder of the language justice and language experimentation collaborative Antena Aire (2010-2020) and the language justice collective Antena Los Ángeles (2014-2021). Jen/Eleana lives on unceded Tongva land in Northeast Los Angeles, where they teach writing, DIY bookmaking and literary translation, work as Sins Invalid’s Language Justice Coordinator, and support community groups in building equitable communication. They have received support in many forms from many entities, including CantoMundo, the Academy of American Poets, the City of Los Angeles, the NEA, and PEN American Center. They publish poems, translations, and visual-textual works with numerous small presses, including Action Books, Atelos, Counterpath Press, Kenning Editions, Ugly Duckling Presse, and in various DIY/DIT incarnations. More information: https://www.channeltransmitrepeat.com/.