You can purchase our Wildness Omnibus (2015–19) now!

‘Conversation’ by Ai​

— Nix Thérèse

I’d like to commune with certain ghosts, would get me looks in certain circles, but it’s true. There’s so much that’s been lost to us through time, and while this is a driving force, it’s also a real grief. So, when I encountered ‘Conversation’ & its almost instant, “how does it feel to be dead?”, I was immediately roped into the landscape. The ball of light, which was assumably once a blockage in the dead person’s throat but now burns through the floor, is a curious but compelling open. How does such light exist without harming the dead when it immediately destroys the living-space when it arrives? Noting its supernatural weight, the living speaker retracts their question and I can’t blame them. Holding a piercing sun inside your body seems answer & sign enough.

Yet the dead person recalls what it’s like to scratch a “certain silk dress” with a nailtip, that sound so close to a knife cutting paper that you suddenly have tricked yourself not only into hearing the snick, but seeing the blade. These trippy moments ultimately seem harmless, sometimes even letting you address unconscious emotional realities: why does your hand feel like a weapon? But the ghost warns that this interconnectedness of experience won’t last once you’ll be freed from the language: “your own life / is a chain of words / that one day will snap.” The words are “young girls in a circle, holding hands… in their confirmation dresses… the wreaths of flowers on their heads spinning” while they float above, clearly seeing but unable to reach. Is the supposed “after” world a worthy substitute for the ability to articulate & connect your life? Does this dead person hold light in the throat so as to not feel empty or are they already filled? I want to laugh at how misleading this title is, less a back-and-forth between those alive and those beyond but more a match-strike to an internal conversation within the living. If we can’t move outward, how do we find comfort in folding back into ourselves?

Poetry Foundation