A hangnail of plastic
beckoned from the wrapper, as irresistible
as the pull-cord dangling over the bottommost
of my grandparents’ basement stairs. Pull here,
the package should have read, to open
a new age in space exploration, to open Beethoven’s
Fifth Symphony, to open hostilities.
 I pulled,
five hundred species of paper spilled
from a plastic chrysalis, and every shadow in a small radius
leapt for the nearest corner to quiver there,
hissing. Diamonds upon diamonds
of chiyogami improvised a fireworks competition
on my unsuspecting desk, like wildflowers
forced through a pencil sharpener, like capelin rolling
in the glitter of a discothèque. Pull here,
it should have said, to begin your career
as a lepidopterist, a pyrotechnician, a capital letter
in an illuminated manuscript.
 Leaning close, my eyes struck oil
skimmed from a moonlit pond, a medieval tapestry
writhing with maggots, a cross-section
of a stack of Calvin & Hobbes. The book publisher didn’t
use the proper print fixative. Needless to say, when I picked up the book,
all the letters slid off the pages and fell on the floor
in a heap of gibberish.
 I’ve somehow come into possession
of Calvin’s palimpsest: here’s a cartoon fistfight
bristling with punctuation marks, here’s a flattened house
made of dust and housefly-wing chandeliers, here’s twenty years
scraped off a painter’s studio floor, here’s a Bridget Riley
fucking a Hokusai when the MoMA is closed. Here’s
where I drove off a bridge and a Portuguese man o’ war
hit the windshield, here’s the scent of the recycling plant
distilled into nine square inches, here’s a nautical map
of the moon. Mare Cognitum. Mare Insularum.
The names of lunar maria generally call up psychic states.
When Mare Moscoviense was proposed by the Soviet Union,
it was only accepted with the justification
that Moscow is a state of mind. Did you even read
the history chapter I assigned?
 Here’s an artist’s impression
of the sound of snow falling on the ocean, here’s a spiderweb
gift-wrapping a gust of wind, here’s a cave painting
discovered in the tunnel of your bloodstream. Pull here
for altered thinking processes, closed- and open-eye visuals,
synesthesia, an altered sense of time, and
spiritual experiences.
 Here’s Calvin pissing on
the words Your Text Here, here’s a strip of tiny squares
with Cheshire smiles, here’s a butterfly wing
magnified fifteen times, here’s where
I closed my eyes. I tried too, Miss Wormwood.
I think my excuses need to be less extemporaneous.

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