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Character Anatomy

By Amaranth Borsuk

Few things the hand wished language could
do, given up on dialect's downward spiral:
words so readily betray things they're meant
to represent.

Words tasted like other things. Type refused
to look machined, showed the strokes that
unbalanced, grew spurs against stress, each
swash, spine, shoulder, tail a fresh mark of
the hand that had no hand in it.

Arms broken, tissue mangled, the hand was
ready to try body's cant: a disappearing text,
past and future pressed into skin's plies.
Grammar's ultimate loss: surface, each
nanosecond, dead and reborn in microscopic
fragments.

Take take take take take -- that's how body
ensures its own survival. The hand couldn't
trust it long enough to decipher its cipher:
empty vessel with hands. The body had false
papers, could not be identified, clearly could
not represent. It didn't look like the pictures
anymore, would only sit still to be counted,
so the hand learned to trust numbers --
observable, firm -- needed something to
count on without fingers or toes now that
fingers and toes were gone. Fingers and toes
wouldn't cut it.

Added: Wednesday, July 9, 2014  /  From "Handiwork: Poems" (Slope Editions, 2012). Used with permission.
Amaranth Borsuk

Amaranth Borsuk's most recent book is As We Know (Subito, 2014), an erasure collaboration with Andy Fitch. She is the author of Handiwork (Slope Editions, 2012), and, with Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen (Siglio Press, 2012), a book of augmented-reality poems. Abra, a collaboration with Kate Durbin forthcoming from 1913 Press, recently received an NEA-sponsored Expanded Artists’ Books grant from the Center forBook and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago and will be issued in 2014 as an artist’s book and iPad app created by Ian Hatcher. Amaranth has a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and recently served as Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT. She is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell.

 

Amaranth Borsuk is a poet, scholar, and book artist whose work encompasses print and digital media, performance and installation. Her books of poetry include Pomegranate Eater (Kore Press, 2016); As We Know (Subito, 2014), an erasure collaboration with Andy Fitch; Handiwork (Slope Editions, 2012); and, with Brad Bouse, Between Page and Screen (Siglio Press, 2012), a book of augmented-reality poems. Her intermedia project Abra (trade edition 1913 Press, 2016), created with Kate Durbin and Ian Hatcher, received an NEA-sponsored Expanded Artists’ Books grant from the Center for Book and Paper Arts and was issued in 2015 as a limited edition hand-made book and free iPad  / iPhone app. Her other digital collaborations include The Deletionist, an erasure bookmarklet created with Nick Montfort and Jesper Juul; and Whispering Galleries, a site-specific LeapMotion interactive textwork for the New Haven Free Public Library. Amaranth has a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and recently served as Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at MIT. She is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell, where she also teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics.

Other poems by this author