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Carol Novack


from Gated Communities
(being a tale in progress, regress and digress)


Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.


Outside Looking Inside



Where leaves of the sequoias fall and winds lift them beyond the edges

of roads.
No, not edges,

not roads:

A circle of time.



Where there are no sequoias, no winds to move the minutes.
Where horses lose their gait and disintegrate.
Where no one remembers the ways, means, or mothers.
He says: a rhombus. She says: a trapezoid.



I met an eloquent man in white who claimed to live inside.

Deep winter rain ran up the holes in my feet as he described mirrors in stadiums of zirconium and in the feasting rooms an abundance of deer hearts, monkey brains, Mahler, and ice wine.

We are drunk from so many reflections of ourselves, he said, caressing his fine red mustaches under a canopy of whirling oaks.

I could not meet the eyes beneath his white umbrella as mine had frozen, wondered what the mirrors would present if I were inside. Would I float across my reflections, a shade in a torn white wedding gown? Or would I hide with hunger under the dining tables, a dog awaiting shards of looking glasses to fall at my feet



I bought a vintage velvet dream and hemmed it to rub against my ankles like cats.

Dead mother's Emerald earrings clung to my ears like leaves.
On a road with no moon I shivered under shadows of trees I could not see. He said he'd be waiting by the gate. There would be no other opening.
There was no gate.



If you proceed from A to B on your horse, you may not notice a slight deviation, a size of time as imperceptible as the beginning of an embryo.

You must have circular vision like the sequoia know where beginnings never end and endings begin.

You must recognize the invisible point of conception—open yourself to conceive it.

Then release it, an underwater breath held while passing graveyards –

(that's the point. (beside the point.



If you proceed from B to A without your horse, you mustn't cast your eyes on the ground or raise them to the sky.

What is before you when you look ahead is what is before you when you look back—mothers, saviors, locked gates and graves, embryos with mouths agape, wombs and wolves in red silk capes.

Resist the temptation to follow the trail of breadcrumbs on the paths. There is no home at the ends of the roads, no home at their beginnings.



One must have a mask to enter, said the keeper of the gate. His head was swathed in black sackcloth with holes for his eyes, too dark to see under a half-hearted winter moon.

Are you a hangman or a gatekeeper? I asked, I in my red rubber raincoat, with my head in the winds and rain, my feet in red rubber slippers.

He said nothing as the road became a river and he a ferryman steering a boat of cloaked shadows cascading over the gate into a promised land of violins, ice wine, and chandeliers.


Missive from Me

Under my favorite sequoia, I discovered a note:

Proceed to the elm at the midpoint of the pines.

You will find another tangent.

Take it to its corner and turn left.

There you will find another.

You will see a fish shop if you look behind you, a stampede of fireflies if you look ahead.

Take three steps back and bring me a carp to eat the algae that grows at my feet.

I’ve been waiting so long, I cannot move.


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