Alisha Mascarenhas is a poet, educator and literary translator living in Brooklyn. She is the
author, most recently, of Contagion Fields (Belladonna* 2021). Alisha has contributed writing to
publications such as The Poetry Project Newsletter, Peripheral Review, Capilano Review, and
The Felt, among others. Recent collaborative work was commissioned by Asiya Wadud and
supported by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for the project ECHO EXHIBIT, presented
as part of River To River 2020: Four Voices. She was the recipient of a 2019 NYFA Mentorship
for Immigrant Artists. Alisha holds a BA in Post-Colonial Feminist Poetics from the Simone de
Beauvoir Institute and Concordia University, in Montréal, and an MFA in Writing from Pratt
Institute, where she was a Leslie Scalapino Fellow.
WITH THE LAKE ____
I celebrate the death of method in submission to the mysterious unfolding of phenomena. What appears stable reveals its construction, and time expands in the tea ceremony, the ephemeral horizon of the changing day. What inconsistent pleasure until rupture, until envy, until grasping betrays my method and I falter. How easy it is to love at a distance, to retain the romance of composure, to flower secretly and alone.
I’m using focus to let the hours undo me. I step into purpose to fortify my labour. I attend to futurity by responding to the present, and to the present by caring for the future. This method often falters. Doubt is introduced, or weakness by way of certain provocation, a culmination of events beyond my knowing. Form produces liberty that is provisional and evolving, cuts back the static of hovering indecision.
Winnowed to the line, I wait in blue as you step into the train beyond the city with your luggage and the parts of you I’ll never touch. How restrictive and desirable.
I was naked in the trees. I haven’t learned to be brave about it. I need to keep this distance, this difference, to amplify the sound. How I admire you, how I work not to consume you. How proximate anxiety and arousal. How my desire seems to exceed myself and enter you, violet across the plain.
I am turning my attention away. Softly and with purpose. I am unfixing my spirit from the singular point of the one I call my lover. How akin this is to grief. I attempt to snap myself into language to deal with the pain. I resist permission to be in the feeling. I fix a point to be held in the experience, its wisdom before language. I create a fricative, geometric form. A device with which to study this melancholy: to separate out and perceive the relational components. The body. The soul. The object.
The cloud screen flattens behind the mountain ridge, sleet grey sloping to blue, shadow and form with the fresh green bloom in the foreground. Its immensity, the mountain, how it drops and the blue deepens, the lower half obscured by the tree line descending before me.
I rest my back against the wall of the cabin and lay my attention bare. Bird song flutters between trees, the wind, somewhere a dog barks. A thin layer of cloud passes over the screen. I’m taken by change. In mild weathers the rustling is indiscernible. I’m enamoured by multitudes: deep layers of green.