S. Brook Corfman

from I Have Been Lying to Myself Again

Dear docent,
            take me on the journey from not imagined to conceivable:
some rumor of delirium,
     of cities breaking you into several people at once.

We made a city, a nasty one, and now we have to live in it,
            our memory a latecomer.
     Our tiny pulses, the breath.

                        Someone says, “You do not form
            yet you will make a space,” and
                                    he can mean you can mean I.
               Sometimes a lover, or a projection.

     Forgive me then this my crime: that I saw you       
where you were not.
            Your voice a house

            built entirely of doors.
     The eye an errant thing, a mode of forgetting.
I take no less than that,

than skies for earths
     and a ceiling paved in aquatic light.
                        I exhaust our little moment.



In La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat restretched each dot to be within an eye’s transition. He made his own outside judgment.

Crowded negative space, waves wrinkled like paper, let no light filter the floor.

Did cutting once have harmony—now an age gone by, some arbitrary slips in, or was there, or was cut but never random—

Multiple circles, multiple hues.

I exalt these waters. I stir this space before me.

In Pittsburgh, the James Turrell floor of the museum flanks with blue and with red a room of watching your eyes adjust.

—and rotate and rotate and rotate and rotate and—

Someone once told me I was California, all beaches and hints of forest fire.

We’re made of paper, we’re all overlapping. Some glue, some fit. One space fractured of dots. Barely any brightly colored chrysanthemums.

No footing but the waters, writes Susan Howe.

A charm of feluccas in the morning, heading out.



I tell the therapist this, that I used to want to be a girl

but can’t remember what that meant, or decide

what remains. She says, are we talking about making changes

or just congruency? and suggests how I feel about my father.

I don’t mean to hurt him, but it is not true.

Granite counter on which twin boys are placed.

I love my father, I

had no idea what to do with him.

Or it is true the erotic can be other than sexual. I wanted to stay small and held.

When the therapist guesses my sexual role, as if such a thing were certain,

it’s not important whether she was right, I think, even though she was.

It’s more important that she doesn’t think of me

as a pathology, though it seems all I can know of her

is what she tells me. She says it’s not uncommon, but I gave up

a thin piece of fabric

and without it, comfort has been difficult to recognize.



I am trying to talk about the deepening without talking about darkness.

The seriousness of the glacier, the way it doesn’t melt but hardens in the sun.

Bring your pickaxes and your small boxes of matches.

The layers refract sight from the center better than opacity hides any blue core.

I am tired of using black and white as symbols for despair and hope, as if they are abstractions.

Often darkness saved me.

Sometimes still I am alone.

Sometimes still I kill the sea creature headed for the surface.

Here is a dead piece of coral that never lived.

This is my mind and this is my mind in the net, chewed by the ski boat’s engine.

It feels like the gaps in a series of absences.



Two doors, and two windows, and both windows are covered. Out one door, stairs down to the marsh, where damp seeps into the frame. Out the other, a hallway. Between them a passage. In what light do I look presentable? In what light will he pass me by? Only if I am alone. But he seeks the form in the bed, the form in the hallway, coming closer. I close the blinds as a seal. I turn the light on to calm down. I turn to the right and imagine music. This is restlessness or the weight of the future. I replace the imaginary with the real. Fear an imminent presence, but nothing appears. Still, I cannot shake the shape each feeling takes.



S. Brook Corfman is a poet who writes plays, living in a turret in Pittsburgh. This Lambda Literary Fellow’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Phantom, Gigantic Sequins, HEArt Online, Ghost Proposal, and OmniVerse, among other places. @sbrookcorfman.