The Separation Mists

Before the actual passing of the train, there is a billowing wall
of sleet that precedes it, visible against any vertical line. A
curved pompadour rising above the forehead of the train.
This wave represents a kind of thinking, the preliminary
forecast of the passing. Similarly, mists part before the sound
of tractor trailers, a pulse towards the body’s movement
before its decided separation. This phenomenon is indicative,
not of a force of sound, but of a lateral gravity running
through everything.
  We might consider this gravity only evident in specific cir-
cumstances, dependent on a body’s size and speed, and these
relative to climate. Still, while walking through mist, even we
never actually make contact with it, to hold vapour in our
hands, say. It is like an aspect of personal space, our pre-
conscious moving ahead of ourselves through air. This is why
we can be surrounded by fog, but never actually immersed in
it. If every body projected this relative sphere of self, we must
rethink the Euclidian notion that transposes a dot over the
straight and narrow; the point never able to fully participate
in its own lineation. Translating this circumference as an
extension of self that surrounds even the smallest particles
further explains the impossibility of the static object, in addi-
tion to electro-magnetic repulsion.
  Personal space exhibited in this way suggests the possibility
of a future forecast that each of us exudes, a kind of security
blanket. Each step being partly known before it is taken by
the prehensile and extra-sensitive apparatus responsible for
the force of ourselves: a bodily active sub-conscious. By this
thinking, the sidewalk actually rises to contact the heel in the
space between. The texture of the surface is known before
the touch. The heat before the sear. The separation mists
could provide visual proof of the carriage of the soul.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “The Separation Mists”?

I conceived of “The Separation Mists” after seeing a transport truck driving through snow. The truck really seemed to push snow ahead of it before breaking through. This is basically articulated in the first paragraph. But it got me thinking that it might be possible that everything exudes a sort of protective barrier that would only be evident in certain circumstances. “The Separation Mists” is really about the discovery of those circumstances.

What poetic techniques did you use in “The Separation Mists”?

There are two poetic techniques at play in “The Separation Mists” worth noting.

  1. The first technique is ‘pataphysics. ‘Pataphysics is essentially an unreal science, a science of the absurd. ‘Pataphysics poses unproveable hypotheses, and then creates materials, in this case poetry, to support and extend its claims. In the case of “The Separation Mists,” I was trying pose a kind of ether, or something like that, that we exude, as a means of explaining the soul, for one, but also explaining the limits of perception.
  2. The second technique, used in the echolalia, is a cut up technique I was borrowing from William S. Burroughs. The idea was to cut apart the previewing ‘pataphysics piece into words or phrases, and realign them in an effort to pose new ideas and concepts. The only rule I followed with this technique was that I could only use words present in the original piece.

This poem “The Separation Mists” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 169 (Summer 2001): 12-12.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.