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Disappearing Act

for Bas Jan Ader

(1942-1975)

 

‘because gravity overpowers me’

 

Things tilt, 

fall

over and we

do, stasis the moment

before the forwards-

 

jolt. In a slippery-shingled world

gravity became your ludic conspirator:

your avant heavy with visions

of afterwards.

Early conceptual work

charts falls: from a bike into

an Amsterdam canal;

into a trestle (‘Broken Fall’);

from a chair perched

on the roof, becoming 

again the bundle your parents

threw to make 

an impossible escape. Fall I,

Los Angeles 1970

can neither forget nor recall

1944. 

 

At two, your father’s execution

meant only abandonment.

Resistance, courage, harbouring

the persecuted: ideas beyond

the world of your days.

The words of your work:

a toddler’s small syllables:

PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME

 

Later, in a film so stark

(then a postcard, another film,

a photo: endless formation)

unstopped tears

collect all tears: 

I’m too sad to tell you:

testimony of one who saw

but could not phrase:

particles of innocent witness.

 

And knowing, through it all

grief’s isolation

and the falling of all art:

thoughts unsaid

then forgotten.

 

At the end,

a Search For the Miraculous:

and lonely voyage to 

break a-

cross 

the Atlantic

fall into the vanishing point

no roof, windows

tilt, no earth

all 

tilt: the sea’s windows

opening to the miraculous. 

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