by Andrew Bertaina
I can’t keep writing poems about thinking without doing any thinking. But just remember that Wittgenstein retired for years after writing Tractatus, and I’m only retiring for the length of a short poem. I read a story about a Japanese solider who’s spirt got caught as it tried to ascend after battle. Once, I was on a train in Seville, and I watched at the sheafs of grain, gone golden in the summer, covered in a warm afternoon light, stretching their light-stained arms all the way to the horizon line of my sight. I want to tell you more about Spain, but I’m saving that story for the afterlife, so I have some things left to sing to the other people trapped there.
For years, the only dreams I ever remembered were those where I was eaten by a bear. Whenever I hike, even if it’s not in bear country, some part of my subconscious is thinking about those bears and whether I’ll be eaten. And if I’m quiet enough, if I really listen, some part of my brain is also often thinking about fucking, but I’ve remembered far more dreams about bears than dreams about fucking.
How old were you when you learned that sometimes or maybe it’s the majority of the time, I don’t have time to look it up now, I’ll be dead soon enough, that the starlight reaching us is from stars that have already blown up, already winked out of existence? If I ever got a poem or a piece right, you’d feel, at the end of the poem, exactly like you felt when you learned about all those dead stars, all that dead light, all those things you and I are never going to do with one another in the darkness that follows.
Andrew Bertaina’s short story collection One Person Away From You (2021) won the Moon City Press Fiction Award (2020). His work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Witness Magazine, Redivider, Orion, and The Best American Poetry and notable at Best American Essays 2020. He has an MFA from American University in Washington, DC.