new zealand electronic poetry centre



 Capital of  the minimal
J e a n n e   B e r n h a r d t


             for K

re assemble a moment that circles the
body like an aberrant instinct an intractable
bid for here I fell silent for here I resisted
for here I resisted

We sit in the car with the engine
turned off. Telling the story
again and again.
What I mean by dereliction
and why it moves me.
What she means by innocence
when it feels like blame.

It feels like blame.

To be judge, To be judged.
And not forgive.

The child allows she said.
The child allows herself.

But you have invaded me.
                                                            (But you have invaded me.)
And I will not forgive.

Outside the ground is gutted. Bone lifting
through tussock and dead wood. We leave
the car and walk, stamping our feet to stay
warm. Look at this I call my words flattened
by wind. Look at this Look at this.

In a country of willed things

Like you have willed me to be.

I look for places to mother me
she said but it is my father
who taught me the earth.

Upheaval and a harsh law.

To be judge. To be judged.

Telling me your bones are frozen
when it feels like

reassemble a moment that circles
the body like a detailed instruction
a nematic conceit for here I resisted
for here I was told

for here I was told

When I first saw Kim's paintings I
remember the sense I had that here more
than any where what I could know of
Kim would be true. And that in spite of
their guard because of their guard how
naked they were.
How naked she was. I remember I stood
there and could not name what I felt
and the strange allowance in that.

Months later, when I was talking of
her work I said it did not move my
heart. I saw my heart as something to
be moved, I still believed that passion
pushed, a blunt shove of hands to
someplace unexpected. But I felt
uneasy with myself knowing words
declare territories that one ends up
defending. Liking and disliking as if
the heart is two sided.

I recalled that afternoon in her studio
when I stood there unlanguaged and
how that had stopped me. Whether
that had been Kim or Kim's paintings
or a shifting of both I didn't know.
But I remembered.
It had stayed with me.

And I thought about what I have
invested in a violence of feeling, how
practiced and intact that mythology
is and I thought about Kim impelled
toward an inertia of balance, the
awkward fit of demand and
delay, force and reticence,
entombment and grace
and the Ďandí word how inside it
really is, imagining the margins in
connection as everything is in
connection, their overlap their touch.

I thought about her painting and
wondered what unnamed recognition

was telling and touching on me

re assemble a moment that circles
the body like a detailed instruction
a nematic conceit for here i resisted
for here I was told
for here I was told

Drafted, then erased, like a palimpsest
open to each developing and geometrically
concurring thought and disturbance, Kim's
paintings/drawings are an immiscible
surface of tension and intimacy.
A wider ring around the topography of the
body-forcing entry and resistive of trespass.
A keeping-in-to-herself.

Where I am not seen. Where I am always.

In silence in the vein that runs
deep below language my body is
an ear curved toward a holding
space, an alembic, a reminder

I am hard and soft.
I am hard and soft.

It was late maybe. The sun was
colour red on fire and I turned
to her laughing.
I turned to her laughing
She was quiet.
Why are you so unhappy? I asked
I could feel it beside me
her unhappiness. I wanted to hold
her but I did not know
where she was. I did not know
what she wanted. She looked at me;
Donít you know? she said.

Donít you know

how do you love
she asked
when the body is mute?

For a long time

I could not use colour.
The feeling in colour
and I was suspicious.

To be judge. To be judged
When the body is mute.

You love too many people she said
I donít believe that kind of love

We argued about love

re assemble a moment that circles
the body for here I resisted for here
I was told. For this I spoke.

For this I spoke.

She makes a sign.
An open secret on the body.

[written by Jeanne Bernhardt, June 1996,
for ĎDerelictioní solo show by Kim Pieters
Vogel House, Dunedin, August 1996

photographs © Jeanne Bernhardt 2004

Last updated 13 August, 2004