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John Latta
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Nabokoviana
 

A bizarre thing the busy bee: all sidelong itinerant madness, tiny
Don Quixote of the fiery azalias. The bee asking ‘What’s
chthonic? What’s sempiternal mean?’ As if the radiant everlasting
earth could offer up the stark plow-ruts of its bed of flowers for
selection, for chrestomathy, for use.

Somebody is about to cuff somebody in a visible translation of
energy. There. A fragment of human speech lingers nearby in the
air where a solitary bumblebee stumbles, sorely askew, risible, and
aloof. Speech is always an unsettling, shiny motes in the frank air
of four o’clock, pollen cosy and drifting in the yellow light. . . .

Language is a kind of cuff. A device, a radio set retrieving the
God-knows-what off shimmering airwaves, sonic and disturbed. It
labels birdcage and hatbox with similar enthuse and rattle,
branding charm like ‘charm’ and dumping a bracelet’s worth of it
out into a hamper full of moth-

eaten fur, sundry anachronism, an attic’s worth of armor. Broken
visor, hammer’d mail coat, shin guard. So we ape the malicious
sceptic amongst us with a hard pinch to the posterior like a bee
sting, a connection to claim all, to say ‘this is here and now’ and
grace resides in the overload, the bonus, the resounding which. . . .

Which is fifty azalia cuttings clinging to the story going around
about the bowl that contains those cuttings—azalias of the blazing
tongue!—and makes an oval reflect on the shiny table. There is
somebody sitting in a chair before a bowl of azalias, azalias probed
and palpated by a listing squire of a fat bee. . . .

Somebody under a spell, a prisoner to bees and words. A page with
crisscross blue lines blurs there, interceding the beelines of blunt
invisible translation as if destiny were loyalty, or as if language—
fair Dulcinea, lost maiden—were maiden to none other than we
here, heedlessly alert,

who do not need such enchantment, such itinerary, such device.

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