Friday, February 22, 2008

"The Story of Mist"

This week's featured chapbook is Stuart Dybek's The Story of Mist, a collection of short pieces (stories? prose poems?) published by State Street Press back in 1993. I'm always happy to find chapbooks from this press--they use nice soft paper, wraparound slipcovers, and original artwork. Here's the title piece; it reminds me of a ghazal:

The Story of Mist

Mist hangs like incense in the trees. Obscured trains uncouple in a dusk that is also obscured, and later, a beacon sweeps across the faces of a crowd gathered at the shoreline, standing knee-deep in mist.

In a corrugated shed lit by a misty overhead bulb, a welder, working late, looks up from acetylene, then removes his mask to kiss his wife who’s brought him a cold beer.

Smoke smolders through the projection beam as if the old theater is filling with mist: on screen, gigantic faces gaze out at an audience of shadows.

He holds her to him with his left arm, while extending the blue flame away from them with his right, and she holds the foaming bottle of beer away from them as if it too were a torch. When their mouths touch, her breath enters him like mist.

An endless chain of boxcars slams back together with a sound of rolling thunder, thunder smothered by mist.

She can see the mist rising from the hairs along his skin, and touches them as carefully as she might draw a straight razor along the length of his body.

Listen, in the dead of night, high above the mist, steeplejacks are nailing up the new day’s Christ.
A buoy tolls in the mist like the steeple of a little neighborhood church that has drifted out to sea.
A freighter, sounding a melancholy horn, hoists the moon that it’s been towing from a moonlit slick, and tows it through the mist.


Gabriel said...
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Anonymous said...

That's just gorgeous. Classic Dybek.