The City of Consciousness

is the same on every side if you can speak of sides when it’s the same,


even when you’re outside


you’re inside,


together with the neighbors you meet,


every meeting has minutes,


that’s the kind of neighborhood it is.


The halls are so narrow you have to turn sideways and flatten yourself against the wall, rubbing the way you polish a shoe,


I think we have an affinity for barriers


and also for entry.


Sometimes we move around in order to see if we end up in the same place or a different place, or somewhere in between,


circling around in order to go forward backward.


I don’t think there’s a center,


or a main entrance,


this is what the sign with the slanted line through the red circle means,


the floating red circle,


you don’t feel like it,


not right now.


It’s the kind of intimacy where you’re close to something you’re not even aware of.


The corners curve like the top of a radiator,


when you touch the walls the plaster has the consistency of peat moss, nourishing but not very solid,


thickening as it dissolves,


the walls don’t know anything about the space between the walls,


while the streets cross each other like strings in Cat’s Cradle, Jacob’s Ladder, Breastbone, in order of appearance,


pulling in one place


pulls in another,


there’s energy all over, do you think it needs to be used up?


The lights are on,


or else no lighting is needed.


We spend a lot of time putting things where they belong.


To save time we often follow the neighbors home,


going the same way


but not together,


when the signs tell us to yield


I’m not sure which of our desires they’re referring to.


Seen from above, the interior is an origami crane folded over itself,


overlapping like a bouquet or Venn diagram in which you’re in a lot of different places at the same time,


touching all over,


not lifting or flying away,


not outside the city,


which is already a sanctuary for folded birds.




Peter Leigh has previously published poems in Paris Review, Partisan Review, AGNI, Western Humanities Review, Cincinnati Review, Seneca Review, The Southampton Review, Cimarron, Hubbub, and other magazines.





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  1. Pingback: Table of Contents, Issue 14 | Matter

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