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Heaving 75-lb. rock

Plate 311—Eadward Muybridge

The rock at the same plane as the shorn head.

As if the man is listening to the rock and the rock

is unwilling to enter the world that awaits.

It is the new opera, this law of contingencies.

The rock, held there in the man’s right palm.

The relation between them in which the body

and the body are two animals, asleep

in the camera’s eye. Their stringent, physical link.

There is, between them, the mute and reciprocal

understanding. His forearm towards the camera.

Together the rock and the man’s elbow fuse into

an exclamation point, inverted to express

the power of the man’s body. The rock is warmed

by the man’s face as he stands there. The stillness

which is also the potential coalesces into shadows

across both faces—the rock and the man.

His jaw fixed in the direction he will throw

in a later frame, but in this one he brings

his left arm up. His hand splays out to catch

the stone as his left leg anchors him. Disperses

the weight exploding forward as his torso leans.

The uncertainty of the rock’s trajectory—the possibilities

turn in a span of light. The way the light distributes

and integrates the man’s hands into the object

so the eye, deceived, sees a fusion of the two.

The man and the rock mistaken for a denser image.

And now he has brought the other hand up,

his head obscured by his left arm. The rock

rising above him so that it is a sun. And he is

a god. The relation between them,

momentum. The relation between them, negated

with a thought. As when the man’s right arm moves

across his face, arcs, and releases what was his.

from Poetry Northwest 08.2 Fall & Winter 2013-2014More by Oliver de la Paz from the library

Copyright © Oliver de la Paz
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.

Published in Oliver de la Paz Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.