Notes on a Starry Night (for Ariana, Bernard, Jesús, and Lexi)

By: mónica teresa ortiz

YOU CANNOT SOLVE THE ISSUE OF “CONSCIOUSNESS” IN TERMS OF THEIR BODY OF “KNOWLEDGE.” You just can’t. Just as within the medieval order of knowledge there was no way in which you could explain why it is that certain planets seemed to be moving backwards. Because you were coming from a geocentric model, right? So you had to “know” the world in that way. Whereas from our “Man-centric” model, we cannot solve “consciousness” because “Man” is a purely ontogenetic/purely biological conception of being, who then creates “culture.” So if we say “consciousness” is “constructed,” who does the constructing? You see?

-Sylvia Wynter, from an Interview with Proud Flesh: New Afrikan Journal of Culture, Politics &
Consciousness, Issue 4 (2006)

1. Again today I say that shit is bad.

2. My declarations are not a nightmare nor are they hyperbolic.

3. Just this morning at breakfast we hear of another death.

4. Another procession will drive past our house on a winter afternoon.

5. The black hearse will inch along the road we share with the cemetery.

6. People will gather and watch their beloved lowered into the red clay.

8. After the funeral, there is a distortion of memory and knowledge curdling together.

9. Is grief an ontology?

11. I count the number of starry nights.

12. A green comet will pass by on an almost full moon.

13. One that hadn’t come close to us in 50,000 years give or take.

14. Scientists noticed its trajectory while searching for supernovas or gamma-ray bursts

15. No one could have predicted the green comet cutting across the fiber of our universe like a
marble rolling chaotically through the stars.

16. I scan the clouds through the web of oak tree branches spread out against the night.

17. We buried Buster the Jack Russell just a few feet past the roots of the rotting trunk.

18. I didn’t flinch nor look away even while a chorus of dogs cries out in the ministry of

19. The green comet could be a portal opening up another dimension.
20. I want to witness this once-in-a-lifetime moment but I don’t believe what western scientists
tell me.

21. They didn’t invent the calendar nor navigate the stars before GPS.
22. I laugh loudly then because it is 18 degrees outside and I am only wearing a hoody.

23. It hadn’t occurred to me to dress properly.

24. February wind gnashes against my face.

25. I lean against the tree to wring myself free of consciousness of my questions about why
there are more dead than comets and whether or not I am actually moving, standing on a
magnet, or in the company of ghosts

mónica teresa ortiz
mónica teresa ortiz is a poet and interdisciplinary artist born and raised in the rural Panhandle of Texas. mónica was a 2022 visiting researcher with the Center for Arts, Design, & Social Research, and their work has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, and Fence.
Featured Image By: Eberhard Grossgasteiger

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