Essay At Orison For Air — April Jakso


(Written first by hand. Reprinted here.)



Let death be this white space I make my mark against, because I’ve no language of either. How do I do it?

I sneak up on death like halving a pomegranate, wounding round him and into the white first.

↺ (round) ↑ (up), ↺↑: d

Once I’ve got him, I rest my arm across his chest,

d e a ׀ h, + →: t

then let him have me for a little while like

I get certain my mark isn’t ‘I’, ↓, in the practice of marking; going down on death I hardly use my hands. In the practice of marking, I get certain the hand has to be in the mark. This practice depends on letting death have me for a little while, and he does with his hand around my throat. Reducing air-flow with a hand provides the most control over force applied, the quickest removal of that force when I lift my pencil. Without the hand’s practice of safety, some part of marking would be a violation of my trust. Yes, I trust death, yes, I trust this white space, because I have to hope that my language will always have limits. A thing without limits is, like a hand that won’t mind my pencil, unkind. How can you, limitless, be kind to things when most kinds of things have limits? Sure, I believe everything’s connected, in, say, a Jane Bennet way, but that doesn’t mean every line is ours to cross.¹ So, the hand’s practice of safety has to be in the mark. And when I say ‘I make my mark against this’, I think I mean ‘against’ as in ‘I put my lips against your wrist’. How do I do it, make a mark against this white space?

Paper cannot tell me to stop writing but the act of writing cannot be without places on the paper where we do not write (the act of writing by hand. That’s as far as I’ve got with this thinking yet). What’d you read, if I covered all of this page in pencil? Can paper tell me ‘oh fuck write here’, where to put my hand? I have kept inside its lines.

What is my mark against death, how do I do it? Is my mark the same as how I do it, is it practice too? I have to sneak up on death, go round him, and think of him first through pomegranates and through writing on this white page because, just as if he were anybody else, I want to meet him as I am. Not as I become, changed by the love in his face when he turns to look at me. I will be kinder as I get close with death; meet me first unable to forgive myself for being unable to forgive so much. Now, I am trying, with this raised hand, like your hand, to be kinder. This is my mark against death; a story to tell the things that make us journeyers between life and death, as Persephone eats a pomegranate, to insist and insist again on the transience of both life and death. It’s a pencil raised in a hand, making a gesture that invites death to trust me to stop. A hope that you and I, like our life and death, can be, at least in transience, kind.


¹ Jane Bennett, primarily in Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things theorizes a ‘vital materiality’ that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman.



Display Image Credit: The broken pomegranate by Alexei Antonov, 1997

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