Francoise Roy

Stay in front of the aquarium glass

Look at the jellyfish dance, their fragile mesoglea.
Touch the window that separates them from you who also came from an aquarium, although you don’t remember. (It is no evil mirror, only transparent wall). You will see them, in the liquid gunpowder of your rage, grow wings, transform into nightingales, birds of prey under water.
You don’t need binoculars: you are next to them, your nose touches the glass, you see a submarine dovecot, a flock of birds pecks at your heart.
Your heart hangs on a hook behind glass.

Cracks in the blank page

Once the paper has been troubled, faces come up;
they do not know what they came for, neither do I.
—Henri Michaux

No one sees you,
armed with balances and measuring tape,
drooling, with a touch of madhouse in the pupil.
Light descends the ladder of silver:
blessed illusion that passes between my cornea
and retina like a veil.
They thought they saw me.
But you are the words, the blank page.
You embody
the template of all possible arrangements
(my foot never fit into your slipper,
nor my finger your magic ring).

Do not come near me. I admit I had visions,
that there were never strange faces
or a brilliant waterfall.
The crack of your whip deafens.
It is snowing in my head.
I close my eyes:
peace is a December morning
in a Nordic forest.
If I close my eyes long enough,
you will tire and go.

Someday, I will have to clean every trace of your poison.
I will make you disappear like a stallion balks before a cliff.

The bridge of Varolius

You are named for the arched bridge over the waters of Venice. Is Varolio the surname of a lover, handkerchief in hand, whose fate condemned him to eternal waiting, gazing into the current of the gondola-lined canal, like a failed Narcissus looking into the mirror of love, blue ghost detained in a blue Venice evening?
So beautifully they baptized that which you are: pithy rope that serves as baseboard for the two hemispheres (not the North and South of maps, but the left and right of inspiration and calculation), simple system—for one so complex— of white nerve fibers, woven transversely and longitudinally, connecting the medulla with both halves of the brain.
And yet, everything passes through you, threshold between ideas and the leg that travels through worlds, the fingers that caress and the hand that stabs. So you are not the imaginary lover that in my baptismal font becomes a gondola lookout, even though you must travel from Broca’s area to the red thalamus of the heart, to exist here, in this humble poem, and be named, in that which two centuries ago emerged from goose-feather quill.

___ Addendum: The bridge of Varolio is the most prominent segment of the brainstem. It contains at its core other parts that apparently play a major role in regulating sleep and the state of arousal. It derives its name from Varolio Constanzo, a sixteenth-century Italian physician, and professor of anatomy and physiology in Bologna and Rome, who devoted himself specifically to the study of the brain, which brought about new knowledge.

What kind of dagger


What kind of dagger pierces the crystalline belly of a jellyfish?

Oh mesoglea, soft crystal belly, mouth that digests and reveals its prey like a showcase.
In which of your waters did you release your stinky ink, slimy milk like purple night sky just before dawn?

Rust of the sea. Blood another color spilled along winding pathways of dissolved salt.


The creatures asleep in the silence woke suddenly, true collective of voracious mouths that, realizing they were in grave danger, left a trail of dark lifeblood all around.

I watched her slowly fade in the underwater kingdom, curl of smoke escaping a fireplace, comet tail, timeless solitary star, with its stretch of light pressed between brackets of the night.



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