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PHENOMENON

September 2 2022

by Calvin Olsen

 

Depth is a third dimension derived from the other two.

          — Maurice Merleau-Ponty


There is, at first glance, something

paradoxical about it: staring

into and, as the saying goes, through

a picture, a printed photograph, even,


if you’re in the business of filling space

with slices of itself, these slices themselves

simply an illusion of an illusion, organized

so squarely on the wall and straightened


when necessary, or dusting, that dust

a circumlocution of matter waiting

(this is the age for it) for collection,

stratifying just the slightest bit


but only in the corners, their depths

a congregation of said stratification

that when brought to light compounds

and is sent away for dumping at the dump


unless torn along the way the plastic bag

releases it again, free to fly where it will

until wet, and before you know it

some other philosopher finds it caught


(a storm drain) and assigns it meaning,

movement, agency, and worth, if not forever

then at least a moment, a millisecond, maybe,

about how long it takes to capture what comes next.

 

CALVIN OLSEN

Calvin Olsen is a writer and translator based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He holds an MFA from Boston University and is currently a PhD Candidate in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media at NC State. His work has most recently appeared in The Adroit Journal, Carve, The Los Angeles Review, and World Literature Today; and his translation of Portuguese poet João Luís Barreto Guimarães's Mediterranean is forthcoming from Hidden River Press as the inaugural winner of the Willow Run Poetry Award. More at calvin-olsen.com.