"... Grief like a garrison and I am everywhere I have ever been ..."


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nathalie stephens


nathalie stephens

Aller-Retour (selections)


In the body's familiar posture the listless
gestures of undetermined faith and the chase
towards oblivion. At three a.m. the scratchings of
tired prose and screeching tires, these
prescriptions for survival recorded against realms
of guarded immortality and despair, and in the
trudge toward home the disregard for the body's
distance from itself; cautions received like the
gravest inflictions. Breath steals away and
memory's waters drown even the bravest intentions.
        What is the measure of trust and impermeability?
I have chased dragons down railway cars and slept in
silence against concrete chasms, where the train's
grumble was blood's course through my veins, and this
groping towards wholeness nothing more than a race
away from definition.


In the dance between breaths the stilled beat of
her gaze in mine, the unmeasured pulse of survival
and the concrete world's delinquency. Ten years of
recorded yearnings, these impatient demands
inscribed in weary ink and life's daily refusals,
where the distance from one place to another is
the spirit's ability to travel unaccompanied.
        What warnings go unheeded? I have cruised the
streets of this city and dreamed the Seine, grey
filtered summers and smoky cafés spent in search
of the perfect equation, impervious to time's
rigour and the body's decay. History's lie is the
promise of ages, hewed stone and the grumblings of
war. The spirit's secret is its ability to transport
whispers of light into brooding landscapes, the sum
of wonder and ingenuity.


The secular vision is a trespass into an
undetermined port of call. The drugged chant of
urban noise a low hum to live by. From subway stop
to subway stop, illicit predications in the form
of graffiti perform the singular dance of
rebellion. Inertia, or the unwillingness to
concede, passages copied out of one book into
another, the coining of new terms for resistance
and goods delivered before their time. Walking
past exit signs, no regard for the lingering
havoc, each body exemplifies the strangeness of
fear, the conditioning of sleep, the modification
of desire.
       What medium passes through me? Grief like a
garrison and I am everywhere I have ever been.