Two Poems by Donna de la Perrière

The Glass Delusion

occurs as a phenomenon in the popular literature of every country
at about this time. For instance, a number of Dutch women
were persuaded they had glass buttocks
and were at great pains to avoid sitting down lest they break;
one insisted she could travel only when packed in a box of straw.

These delusions generated systems
which caused ordinary people to dread
any ordinary circumstance,
resist human embrace.

This tendency to delusion existed
to some extent in earlier periods;
in the fourteenth century,
for instance, irrational fears, such as a woman made of glass
who had iron ribs sewn into her clothing.

I myself can remember being unable
to do the most ordinary things
which tended, with the advance of modernity,
to become more or less specific:

for instance, the crime, the beggared wife,
the witnessed self annihilation.
One woman thought she was a shellfish;
another believed she was all cork, light
as air, she said, and terrified of the ceiling.

Another thought her head so heavy
that it might fall from off her shoulders, and
whenever she sought to speak, swore
she felt a darkness tightening in her throat

Dictionary of the Visible

the possession begins in the divided city
(late September, 1632)
divided because of clans, personal rivalries, fermenting quietly
the surface upon which meaning soon will become phenomena
("I was the prime cause of my own turmoil")

the precursor of a gaze insolently installed in a window-
the sisters whirling and whirling in the courtyard-
possession becomes the story of organs;
for melancholy: the foot, the sexual organs, pollen
anything foetid or dank, anything difficult to control-

replacing them with a series of different or combined gestures,
the visible body becomes the contradictory movement of a history,
the visible body becomes a legible story,
a hand whose varied poses constitute a vocabulary
Loudun becomes essential when it becomes observed-

Spring of 1634: the battle grows obsessive, baroque
the head is a deception (sky articulated in the skull)
things are words, words are things: the litany of the body
in a sense it was something outside the common language:
the "I" as topography, the "I" as unstoppable


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