Three Fragments

Cynthia Cruz


Fragment: With Scrap of Fur on My Left Shoulder

Unburdened, I am free now

to enter it: the terrible and feral music.

When I rode into the Egyptian desert

on my way to Saint Catherine’s

I was thinking of Anne Marie

Schwarzenbach, her repeated travels

by car to Persia, Afghanistan,

Russia, and the Balkans.

Compulsive, and often

accompanied by morphine.

In Berlin, with the Manns, then later,

with others. Consumed by desire.

In Marriane Breslauer’s black and white

photograph in which Schwarzenbach

stares directly into the camera.

Her immense sorrow is evident

in the eyes, dark with sorrow.

And though thoroughly composed,

in men’s shirt and wool sweater,

she looks lost. Father says

I have been asleep since he first knew me.

You are half awake, not alive, he said.

But what does it take, and how

does one get there?

Fragment: I Twice Drew, Both Times From a Different Angle, the Gap Between Two Poplar Trees

Black and white photographs

torn from the pages of magazines

from the 1970s. And stacks of books

and artifacts on movement theory

and the work of the post-conceptual

artists of the former Eastern bloc.

Small, seemingly mundane actions

such as the washing of one’s own face,

in the isolation of one’s own home

do, in fact, count as acts of art.

Or, rather, as valid means of protest.

In a society in which the state is everywhere

and sees all. In a culture in which

everything is swallowed and then

refashioned, what constitutes as

nourishment. For three years

I traveled from city to city,

at work on a performance

piece titled, “Hotel Rooms” in which

I lived for one month increments

in Warsaw, Berlin and Belgrade.

Containment is often detrimental.

And I have spent my life trying

in as many ways as I can

to escape it. But some type of containment

is needed. Genet was happiest in prison

and it was there with the other men

that he could love entirely, be

who he was without terror

of exposure. In the hotel rooms,

I photographed myself

performing small gestures such as

the act of drinking tea or the ritual

of smearing rose water on the face

when waking, after a bath.

In the embrace of isolation

and the reduction of artistic means,

in that small and nearly silent

opening, that minute movement—

it is there, in that increment,

where, finally, the promise

of a new language will appear.


What happens in that moment,
that flash of phosphorescence.

Like sleep, when light’s
semblance enters.

The way a dream
enters the sleeve of the body.

I am trying
to archive this moment.

Gather, collect and keep
every disparate thing
that lives within it.

But each time
I move near—

the elements,
and then the trace,

Who are you.

And what language.

What body, and what
strange series of syllables

is that
speaking through you.

Cynthia Cruz is the author of six collection of poems. Disquieting: Essays on Silence, a collection of critical essays exploring the concept of silence as a form of resistance, was published in 2019. The Melancholia of Class, an examination of Freudian melancholia and the working class, was published by Repeater Books in 2021. Cruz earned an MA in German Language and Literature from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD at the European Graduate School where her area of research is psychoanalysis and philosophy.

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