“Mandible Wishbone Solvent,” by Asiya Wadud (Poetry, March 2022)
roped in incremental ghost tens / future tens clairvoyant tens home tens // blue slips beneath the exposed wing / tilt then seam then an angle spent all inside / the distance between thumb and thimble and fingerprint // height exceeds then brims / makes a solvent of it // …
To process this first portion of text beyond an impression of “something doing this thing and another thing, then that thing,” I fall back on applying markers that help me speculate what propositions it may hold.
Roped in incremental ghost tens, future tens, clairvoyant tens, home tens, blue slips beneath the exposed wing tilt, then seam, then an angle spent all inside the distance between thumb and thimble and fingerprint. Height exceeds, then brims, makes a solvent of it.
There are two sentences. The subject of the first sentence is “blue.”
The blue is “roped in” — somehow contained, if not restrained — by the decimal unit “tens.” Tens is ticking upwards, perhaps measuring the extent of blue’s “slips” delineated in the predicate. Tens, like an exoplanet, has four moon-like attributes: “ghost,” “future,” “clairvoyant” and “home.” Each orbits the arithmetic substantive darkly, exerting an imprecise gravity on its cryptic mass. A wan light travels from modifier “clairvoyant,” whose extrasensory vibe chimes with the stanza’s delphic nebulosity.
Blue “slips,” conveying a motion more angular and eccentric than frontal. The predicate details three orientations of blue, relative to locations on the “exposed wing,” which pinpoint progressive degrees of slippage: first to the wing’s “tilt,” which would afford a visual of its underside; then to the “seam” — perhaps a bone such as the ulna (mentioned later in the poem); finally, to a tiny angle somehow “spent all inside” the micro-span between a thumb touching the thimble worn on a middle finger, or between the finger itself and the fingerprint of the digit that wears it.
The subject of the second sentence is “height.”
Height “exceeds” something not specified; perhaps the verb is used intransitively, in the sense of increasing self-referentially, surpassing only itself. Whereupon this height of which we speak reaches an unspecified edge, a plenitude verging on overtopping, and in the course of brimming “makes a solvent of it.” Something referenced by “it” is converted to a dissolving agent by soaring height; but what is “it”? I venture that “it” is “blue”: height makes a solvent of blue. Blue is the color of distance, after all. Distance, in the fullness of altitude, goes colorless and ungraspable.
(To be continued…)
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