Attendance is documentary poetry by Rocío Carlos and Rachel McLeod Kaminer, who are collaborating on a book length manuscript for the duration of one year.
As we stand in relation to plants and animals—and one another—we are not exempt, but alive as creatures in and of the world. Taking attendance, and attending, alters* our writing, bodies; places—city, land, wilderness; times—past, present, future…
*fucks up / fucks with / plant sex
February 2 Loud birds in the bamboo, past daybreak.
That pigeon flock lined up on the same concrete bridge over the arroyo and river channels, ten minutes before sun up when they take flight and bustle and wheel.
February 4 A crow, late morning, flying east overhead. One of its (their?) long pinions is missing from its (their?) wing— I see it rather than hear it— the gap in the left wing makes a startling contrast.
February 10 ASH WEDNESDAY
pigeons roosting or nesting in Hollywood on Sunset, with young new ones.
the wolf dog we see on Colorado in Eagle Rock
the small child in her parent’s arms, delighted to see ashes on their forehead which match her own mark
the other children, their half squall half wail kind of crying at the back of the cathedral
February 22 It’s Monday and there are two big corvids— ravens? a yard apart on a telephone wire. They are fluffing themselves in the heat, I think it lets the breeze into their underwings. The crows at work have been building a nest in one of the six tall palms like this : : : over my school building. One of the crows likes long, noticeable sticks or stalks, but flies a path designed to throw (who?) off the track. It’s dodging and weaving. But the palm is a high exposed place and the location of the nest is obvious.
I know a crow came last spring, came and dashed one of the nests over to eat the hummingbird eggs outside my house.
Later when I walk to and from a night event, I’m happy about the temperature of the night, the quiet on 8th, the people walking and awake. On the way home I’m writing and I see again how the human bodies are going to be what I write about too.
A sophomore, February comes in too brash fanfares made of water. The bay laurel trees dry up, they’ve been dying for three years now, even as the saplings spiral bravely out of the foliage. Every time I hear a helicopter I’m not afraid its some fugitive, loose in the back yards of my neighborhood I’m afraid it’s the fire department checking for ready kindling.
I eat the lettuce and kale I grow. I see pill bugs mating on the leaves, earwigs milling around the roots. Who knows what happens in that soil at night, or even under my nose, too small for me to see. Lettuce leaves spiral out of their origin. There is that word again, spiral. That is the direction of nature, splitting cells, clouds of flaming gas, ocean currents that come to kill us all, unfurling ferns.
The echeveria’s bloated petals, waiting for the end. They drop off and die and then they release little red veins, probes. The rise up as on feet and look for soil.
Rain, come. Virgins in caves, plumed beauties. The moon rises, angels sing: yes/no/let come the torrent.
February comes in showy, pink peach blossoms on bare branches.
Geraniums get tall like eager ears but they have never bloomed
Tiny ruby-throat perches- little feet curling around the branch
Ese pobre nopal tiene plaga
I clear the crab grass from the ice-plant so as to clarify something to the men hired by my landlady.
Passion flower- how many varieties
How many kinds of suffering are there
Purple blossoms crumpled like wedding tissue.
Jasmine little unlit wicks. The smell is like a strong cab(ernet) deep and swirling like the smoke under Pilar Ternera’s arms.
The bad neighbor’s voice troubles the trees.
The good neighbor walks his grandchild in the plants.
Bad harvest, bad harvest.
A sophomore, February comes
too brash fanfares made of water
in fire country the bay laurels dry up
the prayer for rain is a fish’s mouth mouthing
de donde cae la nieve
de donde viene la tercera hermana
que aburridos los ojos azules and things like that
Lent is a square surrounded on all sides by sand
the mountain of burning shrubs,
the devil’s wilderness
or rivers; Jordan for example.
In our mouths, strange legends
On varieties of passion flower:
how many kinds of suffering
a country slipped away when you weren’t looking
the peaches of immortality hang from long-bed trucks in front of you
In the yard every morning, attendance:
jasmine, citruses sneak their green on you.
quarreling sparrows, bully mockingbirds
the coyote that almost ate your familiar.
You can’t document it fast enough
and then you listen to a song and it all turns to Macondo.
Imagine sad waltzes: a klezmer, a pianola
or was it the shouting of white men instead?
There is nothing sadder than
a three/fourths time.
the little birds and big ones who kind of skid/brace their wings to shift shoulders
up and feet down, landing or swooping in
a fly by, immediate and precise
dead bird, warbler, look it up for hours, grey, yellow, markings
mourning doves (2)
[I] stay indoors except the courtyard hallway
strip of blue out the window between the beams
on and off throughout the day there are the coo hoots of a mourning dove
cooler in the courtyard than up on the open roof
at dark [I] go out and see that the bear mural has been painted over
see again and not for the first time
how naked to write about animals
missing most of the day
I shut in again, reading,
hearing the courtyard mourning dove, thinking wildness
avoided much outdoor time today
Am I living wrong? Just not living right
used to see, be among so animals all day and night
I could distinguish the visitors
(my visitors / my neighbors. Appear / visit)
now I can’t
they all seem to visit, with sign and seal
not every creature is a visitor!
or in a city every animal is a damascus road, every single one?
or in the city I’m on that road, appearing and blinding of a piece
her hands and the line of her hair
I really wanted to kiss you. It felt like I could kiss you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel McLeod Kaminer has been thinking when do the notes for the work become the work for a while now, and Grimes’ "Be a Body" is on repeat in her head; her book As in the Dark, Descend (Writ Large Press) comes out 6/30/2016. Of plant attendance, Rocío Carlos says Literally What I Do Is I Go Outside And Make Sure They’re All Alive. She keeps an instagram of the things that live. See her familiar Scout demand attendance of the wilderness; see her be the wilderness.