Two Poems from "Notes on the Inconsolable",
an erasure of W.G. Sebald's
The Emigrants
Justin Taylor

Dr Henry Selwyn: lastmemory

Often I tried to imagine what went on inside the heads of people
even neglectedmirrors with blind patches
were hung,multiplying the firelight and reflecting
shifting imagesaccordion-style,faintly prehistoric, some kind of throwback

shadows. The light of the west

neglectedlogs glowing in the dark room,normally
a preludean occasionsome emotion

all manner of creatures, trembling slightlyshining into our line
beyond the flood of lightstudded with wind
follies, pulsing

the families of emigrants falling past the train window, the dark corner within us
gathered out of the drifting mist the teeth
of all the evidence to the contrary and learnt for sheer love,
every word from the lipscleared the greatest
of obstacles

and you already knowhow things went from never able
to bring myselfto anything
I still don't know for sure what made us drift apart,

between his legs, the muzzle

No great difficultyI am increasingly aware

A way of returning after absenceAnd so they are
Ever returning to us,The dead from the iceA few polished bones.

Paul Bereyter: There is no can

A distance
curves out of a willow

free will and much else
this curiously unconnected, inconsequential statement
in the end, I had to get beyond
my ownstory
no one quiteconfirmed the belief (amidst
certain interruptions)
one might refertoone of usbelatedly
I tried to get closer
to the stars, smudged
in the gathering endeavors to bring moments
of the kind that seemed presumptuous to avoid

auspicious patches of waste unambiguously linked to the word city
vacant airtemperature plummetingthe leaping stag staring at me
possible curiositythe image worked into the fabric
We exchanged a clutch
in the upper portion, demonstrating the mysterious
exotic attraction outside
the shadowy interior
a veritable miraclethe stories
of our lives screwed fast amidst the branches

starlings impaired (but not unjustly) our willful stupidity
in the meaning of the creed and more
conspicuous thoroughness flaming, torn between
his suspicion that systematic malice was involved and the intermittent

hope this was a sign from a Higher Place, perhaps genuinely a horror
I witnessed
a moment of incontestable victory over forbearance

things were not on the syllabusboil the flesh off stories performed in secret
on that fresh bright day to mark the end of the job

We were more than a little surprised
We succeeded in finding the derelict
We often simply went out into the fields
We were merely required to provide
We were, almost without exception
desolation itself
rare perfection
bonfire after bonfire
across the years

that intervened

A lengthy silence followed the strange
companion almost consumed by loneliness

at the conjecture of an eternity considerably reduced in size
in the shimmering distance of our longings

a few gapspenned inAgain and againfromfront


if the dead were coming back we were on the point of joining them
in a country scarcely any less happy than childhood at whatever cost --
one of the finest times in the life of that summer

if these pictures can be trusted

because of the new laws
the wonderful future blurred
for the first time
at the end of October how wretched he felt is apparent

a physical vanishing point a resolute silenceplagued her or let her down

I knew what the town was like in the years after the war
I do not find it surprising

an emporium saved and partly borrowed

the light was dim and seemed all the murkier on the lowest level, through the ravines
amidst a variety of smells deeply ridden
past the dark rows of gleaming position
either inside or outside depending on the weather

I came to realize more clearly with every visit it was always already too late
I was least able to understand a difficult, tenable sort of perversion

The seasons and the year as the crow flies but from where? Qualities
less increasingly abstract
half the explanation
the fact that he was

profoundly attached to that miserable place he loathed
and would have been pleased to see destroyed

even so

time did transform the garden, in a quite spectacular manner

writers who had taken their own lives time and again
it seemed to me the mounting
weight belonged to the exiles and not to the people

Soon all he could see were fragmented or shattered images
dark pearldrop shapes amazing, really
the mouse-grey prospect that the world had arrived at the end of the world

I should have liked most of all to turn back
I well remember that strange, sinister manner
in which he robbed me
of self-control

logistics became an obsessionit is hardin the endit is hard to knowYes
it is very hardone really doesn't know
this repeated
at intervals I could not possibly ascribe importance to
I suppose I did not immediately see the innocent disquiet
I experienced momentary failure
the shadow of a bird in flight.