Simulacra

More

Before the beak of a tiny pipette
dipped through a glisten of DNA
and ewe quickened to ewe
with exactly the simulacrum
forty thousand years had worked toward,
before Muybridge’s horses cantered
and a ratchet-and-pawl-cast waltzing couple
shuffled along a phasmatrope,
before dime-size engines
sparked in the torsos of toddler dolls
and little bellows let them sing
and the Unassisted Walking One—
Miss Autoperipatetikos—stepped
in her caterpillar gait
across the New World’s wide-plank floor,
before motion moved the figures, and torsion
moved the motion—or steam, or sand,
or candle flame—before cogged wheels and taut springs
nudged Gustav the Climbing Miller
up his mill’s retaining wall (and gravity
retrieved him), before image, like sound,
stroked through an outreach of crests and troughs,
and corresponding apertures
caught patterns in the waves,
caught, like eels beneath ancestral ponds,
radiance in the energy,
before lamposcope and zograscope,
fantascope and panorama, before lanterns
recast human hands, or a dye-drop
of beetle first fluttered across
a flicker book of papyrus leaves,
someone sketched a creature along the contours
of a cave, its stippled, monochromatic shape
tracing the vaults and hollows,
shivers of flank and shoulder
already drawing absence nearer,
as torchlight set the motion
and shadow set the rest.

Linda Bierds’s new collection, Roget’s Illusion, will be published early next year. She teaches at the University of Washington.
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Death of Film: After Hollywood Goes Digital, What Happens to Movies?

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In