The poet has chosen witness. Not to witness. Perhaps there is no difference. Were you there? Did you see it? Can you recount it? Can you provide testimony to an authorizing body? Can you speak for the wounded? Can you speak for the wounding? Can you speak for whichever side asks first? Can you tell what you saw? Can you confirm your seeing was unrestricted by the sediments that coalesce around you, as you? Perhaps there is no difference.
To choose witness when something like escape is possible. In the stories, we praise those who cloister. The holiness of hermits. Their proximity to something like divinity, by which I mean their own earthliness. The profundity of turning away and turning in to pursue otherwhens. It is seductive. To refuse the interruption of banal violence.
The banality of it cuts through even repose, even quiet, even escape. Refuses escape. Witness names the simultaneity that refuses repose. To insist on seeing and saying. Cuts how an acid cuts through a fat to reveal something. If you walk past sugarcane carelessly, the leaves caress you and you bleed. You must acknowledge them. Refuse your carelessness. Honor the space you share.
A friend reminds me that you release maggots into an infected wound, a putrefying wound, and that they cleanse the dead flesh, providing the body with the space to do something other than suffer and die. If you’re lucky. But infection spreads. And witnesses build unbearable libraries. Traveling libraries. Fevered dreams. Sheets tangle with the sweat of the unbearable. Do you remember waking up cold? And when your bones felt heavy. They say that is where grief lodges.