Three Metaphysical Sorties

K.E. Duffin


What do I expect of expectation? Sitting before silence, willing it to breed answers, stories, out of nothingness, the not-I is borne by the I like a ghost ship—lamenting the rust-mindedness of passersby who disappear beneath the black, surging wave of my forgetfulness. Ship’s log I keep of dimly lit districts of the dead that searchlights ply. Gray depths eventually thin to molten licorice lapping among star-slicked rocks, where father played as a boy. He squints and waves at an absence far out at sea: his own, ever so slowly heading his way. 

On the Futility of Genealogy

I couldn’t squeeze words from them, couldn’t cajole or compel. They remained sealed and silent, like dolls. It seemed deliberate, this refusal to speak, to make a truce with language. No narratives were forthcoming, no summings up or descriptions. To my questions, only sighs, smirks, glances. They saw earth and sea the way a gull does, tilting in silvery air. Waving, gesticulating, I pursued them into cemeteries where they lay down beneath the earth, clothing themselves in that infuriating green that says, triumphant, “Now you’ll just have to guess, won’t you?”


I’m frozen by their image of me as a girl, or an old lady. I don’t know what they see, but it’s not me. I declaim, and they hear a squeaking. I stride, and they see mincing. The muted echo of pile drivers on the outskirts of the city building something unknowable and mundane keeps me awake at night, like the thundering of alexandrines. What they think I am stops me in my tracks, makes me self-conscious: I re-examine the bronze paraphernalia I’m carrying, check my reflection in a collodion pool: explorer, gentleman, just as I thought. But they wink and whistle, “Hey Miss, aren’t you forgetting something?”

K.E. Duffin’s work has appeared in Agni, The Carolina Quarterly, Crannóg, Kestrel, The Main Street Rag, The Moth, Poetry Salzburg Review, Raintown Review, Scintilla, Slant, Southern Poetry Review, Thrush, and other journals. King Vulture, a book of poems, was published by the University of Arkansas Press.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: