In August and September of 2012, artist and philosopher, El Putnam handed out 200 postcards with the following instructions:
“write an anonymous note to someone you have loved and lost. you can write whatever you wish, but you are required to end your note with the sentence: ‘i wish you no ill will.’”
The cards were returned to her via USPS and used to build an installation at Mobius’ space in Cambridge, MA. In the final performance, the cards were read by Putnam and audience members, and then placed one by one into a shredder.
Part of The Present Tense’s Mission is to include a myriad of ways that individuals archive and document experiential art pieces. Artist and poet, Kurt Cole Eidsvig wrote a poem documenting his experience with this transformative piece. We are happy to share it on The Present Tense!
I WISH YOU NEW
Kurt Cole Eidsvig
After EL Putnam’s “I wish you no ill will” at Mobius, Cambridge, MA USA Sept 8, 2012
1. Woven scripts, as in a chain of words reassembled from tangles. This line, this line is now your bracelet, these memories record to handcuffs. Of course you feel the grit of glitter under foot. The road to crystal suffering is a version of America obese hearts with hardened arteries suffer for. I’m kidding, of course, as the delay of dish sounds regurgitates flickering glass chewed through to sewing needle skin. Your alterations to the breezy wind behave so necessary, just as exhales only matter if something plans on following.
2. Behold the thorns on flesh hung upside-down in effigy. Behold ligament and joint, gasp. Behold the breaking sound of items getting crushed to bits and shards and molecules, the smallest parts of each of us that disfigure but won’t go away.
Hold the remnants of what you were, of what I was when we were we, and consider:
The tangled ends won’t render, the tangled ends begin.
3. Because of shadows the font of words can be confusing. Nib and pencil tip chew against bright pulp. In the background— do you hear it—these echoes of hollow wind through the structures. Bridges pull against two things here, rather than connect and allow mercy in catastrophe. When I say “I wish,” I mean “I don’t wish.” Just as when I said “I don’t know,” I was certain. Now look at us: You, and that shadow of yourself behind you, the layers of our time-bomb gasps—the way fingertips can be squares, strings, chains, flowers, legs and light collections in the course of just one night. I am sure you realized at the end of every curve of words, sinewy across the page, was another
lesson in infinity. The two of us repeating; the two of you, so sad.
4. Remember when we danced, the way your voice collapsed?
5. Cave entrances with beads of glass for windows, as if your eyes were premonitions.
Like, lay in bed next to me and create a story with your pillows. As anonymous confessionals
of our hand-me-down linens become a metaphor for the landscape spots we mailed pieces of ourselves
from, no longer blurred by the dishonesty of atmosphere. As the necklace of doubt
is certainty, a noose of stories even your handwriting can’t believe anymore. As when I say, “I wish,”
I mean, “I’m leaving.” As when you command things of me, you command the sun to disappear behind the hills
without the benefit of time passing. And did I ever tell you about the whispers in the dark, my house at half-past martini?
This is my equation: Vodka plus footfalls equals promises on pillows, the lipstick stain of glasses
breathed at hopeful earlobes. Regret is shaped like a nightlight.
6. When I said, “I hope I never see you again,” I meant, “I hope when I see you again, I look different to you.” I meant: “Every time I try to break the mirror that you were to me—that you are—your power only multiplies.” There are countless memories of you cutting me from the floor. There are multiplying versions of you, seeing me, reflecting me, from the floor, from the whispers,
from the filament of your near-invisible fishing line words and promises; the curve and hook of C’s, of J’s, of S’s, of kisses, of denials. In every crunch and break and broken collapsing piece of us, I am chewing silver- glazed glass in teeth and gums. You have caught me. I’m on the land. I bleed.
7. All of us eventually disrupt the air so much, rose petals hit the ground.
8. Behind the girl with the single lens reflex camera there is always a fire alarm.
When you raise your hands, this sculpture you are, roses implode in their lack of water.
On my way back from the shredder I realized you had booby-trapped the safety pins. What else could I expect from all this merciless opening? Tell me, tell me, my feet dismaying my swaying torso, tell me, what you hope to impose here. The edges of this room are the centers of multi-dimensional omniverses, the bent-out gravity of forgotten strands catching souvenirs of words turned into light.
9. Before we met I couldn’t read my own handwriting.
Now I know each defogged windshield glass I pass
allows your eyes to see me.
10. This census of disregard creates paper stand-ins for humanity. This consensus of disregard is a series of balled-up tissues mispronounced as grief before dislocated into wastebaskets.
On Saturdays, wherever you are, I still take out the trash for you.
On Sundays I’m still angry you forgot to buy more trash bags.
11. Depending on the angle you deposit these messages into mailbox, our frames become uneven. Our squares and rectangles, gulped and digested, are mishandled into rhombuses. From where I stand our shadows have elongated. From where you stand there is light—bright, exotic light—shining against your face. Both of us stand still as the lies we hung from unevenly wobble and dance around our figures. In this, both of us are paint. In this, both of us are lines.
12. Pretend there is a word for truth and pretend you understand it. This is the definition of wishing, of course. But isn’t it irresponsible to suppose your unclasping buttons, zippers, safety pins, snaps, won’t lead to heaps of regretful clothes on the canvas of regretful floors?
There is, of course, the brutal honesty of two people having sex in a lightning storm,
a power outage, and then the emergency generator rumbles and the back-up lights blast on.
When we meet again, let’s travel to red glitter beaches, so the two of us can look down and then agree—these footprints in the ground, these are the places
we dropped our spectacles. This is the spot where our lenses cracked, where landscape disappeared.