Moving Nowhere Here | Kimberly Campanello | Granta

Moving Nowhere Here

Kimberly Campanello

Moving Nowhere Here
A rosy sanctuary will I dress / With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain
– John Keats, Ode to Psyche

begins with shouting
in sleep I am naked
on the carpet in a power stance
sensing an army nearby
I am charging the ghost
hanging on the back of the door
I am trapped inside the Shimmer
of a spice cupboard
boxed into fetal position
between jars filled with dried Leaves

it continues in waking life
with food and drink
brought on trays
for what seems like no reason
I must be propped on pillows
to attempt anything at all
other than dream

it continues with rarely
sometimes or often
feeling achingly ancient

I continue to await
the perspective this feeling
ought to bring

but I refuse
teleological notions of progress
especially when what is meant
by progression is me Moving
slowly or quickly
into a state in which I cannot
Move or Move with ease
anywhere and everywhere
on my own

that sounds to me
like regression
or like Moving down
a very screwy road
on an old map

I am on my own
and I am not
having an emotional jag
in which I remember
Something isn’t circulating
or being produced properly
Something that Flows
in what I used to (still) think
is the very site of me
you see this Something
will not issue forth will not Flow

I am avoiding technical
language in the hope there might
be some double (multiple?) meanings
to be felt Here in the basics

meaning the Something
that Flows (or in this case
doesn’t Flow) in the very
site of me (you)

technical language would allow you (me)
to say not me (you) though you (I)
could say not me (you) yet

I am afraid to say we are all
progressing or regressing
down a more or less screwy road
found on a very old map
we are going Nowhere

I promise you he says
I am going Nowhere
of this

I may not
be able to
swallow this
or anything
one day
because of it

not jagging on my own
I am stacking some pages
I just printed I am slamming
the stack’s edge against the table
to see how thick
my book is becoming

it is not thick enough
without this poem
to bear the weight
of this poem

I see that my Hand
is barely trembling
Something is Flowing

and in my book the I’s
are confused throughout
about what they know about it all
and by it all I mean it all
not simply the subject
of this poem which I fear
is all you will forevermore
read in the language
I put down for you

I am putting this subject down
Here in language now
for one time and one time only
when this poem ends it ends god
dammit but of course I know that’s not
how these things work

I know what I am getting into
and what you’re getting out of it
and when this poem ends
I am Here shaking still

I am shopping for a wedding dress
and one dress is called the X dress
it is named for the Something
that will not Flow Here
at the very site of me

do you have difficulty
dressing yourself

often sometimes never

I want to at least have good nails
I want to shake
like a Leaf wearing green polish
on alternate nails and hot pink on the rest

in general with this
to live my best life
I have to be the boulder
that the river Flows around

is that a cliché
or something my counsellor
or trade union told me to say
am I a boulder or the boulder
can I be the boulder
if there are other boulders
and who or what is the river

here is the river
I walk beside every day
(I walk beside it now
every day while I still can)

I am not a boulder
when I walk
beside this river
often I have wished
we could hold each other’s
trembling Hands and Move together

feelings get stirred up
based on conditions
that I must identify and optimize
for instance my foot in a shoe
against the ground
I must find the exact amount
of feedback to my foot
from shoe top and shoe bottom
in relation to the type of surface
to remind my feet
that we are Here on earth
for now and it’s perfectly ok
to keep on Moving

you are young she says
you must train it
while you can
and hope to retain it

the way forward
is to make the hardest things
even harder and do all this
while speaking a foreign language
or subtracting down by nines or sevens
from a high odd number

he continues to be impressed
by the way
I have thrown myself
into activity

I am threatened physically
by a jerk honking his horn
and when I snap back
and insist on respect
I find I am shaking maximally
shakes like I have never
seen surface on myself or others
not even in war footage or
that ecstatic dance class

the onlooker says
you are ok you can
calm down now
I say I am very calm
and I am not ok

I can see why you’d be upset
by that reaction he says
people don’t like to think
about death and your Movement
problems Move their thoughts toward death
and suddenly you are like the Dark Mother
who nurtures and brings dissolution

note that this is not a full
account of my experience
and bear in mind experiences
differ from person to person

not everyone suffers everything
it is possible to suffer
in time or ever

could you write Something for me
he says and then he says
you may have difficulty writing

my writing is illegible and the words
have become so very small so
very crowded on the page

my writing is building up a picture
of what is wrong with me

I search for poets
definitely Diane di Prima
maybe Samuel Beckett
(definitely his mother)

the next time I see him
my written Something
is in his folder
it says I can write like this

he turns the page
to the Shimmering spiral
I had concentrated
hard and drawn

each new person is always asking
about the origin story
of the destruction that is happening
at the very site of me

there is a technical language
that explains all this

I will not use it

instead I will say that today
with my Flowing river
I crossed the edge
of a thunderstorm
I Moved
from pelting rain into
Shimmering sun
and it was like
it always has been on the edge
of storms I have seen
and storms I know only in poems

concentrated and hard
with Something Moving
often Nowhere
Here like a Leaf Flowing
around a boulder
carried by trembling Hands of water


Image © cx33000

Kimberly Campanello

Kimberly Campanello's most recent projects are MOTHERBABYHOME, a 796-page poetry-object and reader’s edition book (2019), and sorry that you were not moved (2022), an interactive digital poetry publication produced in collaboration with Christodoulos Makris and Fallow Media. She is a Markievicz Award co-recipient from Ireland's Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Arts Council, and she represented the UK in Munich at Klang Farben Text: Visual Poetry for the 21st Century, a festival organised by the British Council, the National Poetry Library, and Lyrik Kabinett. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Leeds. She was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease in April 2021.

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