Nic Leigh

The line destroys, leaps from the point, bold; stretches out bodily to sketch a world: an open plane of bliss, brilliant and civilized. Mankind inhabits this patience of light. Each one, given luck, may find his locus here. With my internal geometry, curling carefully round, firm I capture space: a steel cascade as fragile and fluid as our knowing. The sure angle is wrecked, and the slightest move re-vises. So the mirror drifts; you must see your reflection by faith, where it is most precise. You can lean on dreams from the very first third of your life. Hamburg: I knew the coming havoc, hyenas in our living room, an elbow lodged right where the vase patterned with tiny amber pears, but I locked the house anyway. I threw the key in the Alster. And I leapt. I dug into my inky under to begin again. I started drawing without paper. My memory split off, traveled like the cool line on its imperturbable way, merging back with itself only sometimes in dreams—for instance officers, heaven crushed in their teeth, trudging La Capilla de Lourdes. Women in grand hats and collar patches. An explosion into many many-faced shapes, kinetic and tangled, a structure of spaces, transparent, sheer like our shimmering fears. Un dolor. When I’m in reality, where life is pleasant, students and children are pleasant, the garden is pleasant, I build vacuums to contain. I build volume with lines: nets of emptiness. Homes. Reticules weaving space into new worlds. I’m interested in the nothing between the lines and the sparkling when they cross, when they are interrupted—where our eyes catch. Where we see in a flood the intersection of matter and feel a regular assurance before slipping to weigh the invisible, the uncharted holiness. There is no danger for me to get stuck, because with each line I draw, hundreds more wait to be drawn. I use my hands: an operatic spray of lines, vaulting, each one sprung and free.


Everyone is pointing to exemption. To the sky, the blue asylum. To the man, who must work. The birds are all-knowing—to the point of disinterest—but the drinking man is off balance, his spirit is exposed. He is confused by his own jeopardy; when something strikes from the clouds, believe me you will want your hat. Bring me deep red, and deep browns, and deep blues ... and plenty of deep, deep blacks. I will create an archive and a prologue. I will draw a man in fever, pointing, he arches from the sky; the only knowledge in each of our breaths is that the sky cannot contain everyone. Even the doughty bird can fall, only a pellet. I wanted to be plowing so bad today. I wanted to put my hands in the dirt. I wanted the dirt to be mine, and the horse haunches, heartier than anything in the city—except machines. I paint a blue goat stretching for the moon. You can rein a goat, but it’s no use chasing a bird. Birds are the oppressors. It’s from a bold thinking they know the sky. No way except by cudgel to reason with that: pride. The dog has dignity. The dog has a dog inside, and he is sheltered from the light that splits seams. I begged them to let me go out the way I came in, but I came in with two legs and I’m not leaving that way. Of all my suffering, and now I must greet my wives on such unequal footing. Even though we unowned, equally, our limbs. Only bright color can truly express darkness, a feathering knife driving snug through leather, and if you’ve seen all of man’s angles, from the ground all the way to the heart, then you know that too much line is barbaric. Never be sorry, or it may just happen again the next time around. At the periphery of the circle, no man is the right size. But the man in the center is alone.


Stay on it. I’m here to show you a new system of love. All the codes have new rhythms, new silences. There is a clean beat. People are usually tamer on the floe of music, so you can be needlessly violent; speak boldly when they question you. You can’t do what you want, but anything goes—as long as they are alert, you are on repeat, making blood with your voice, cowing them into position, or undressing a man. Stay on it. I’m here to show you a new system of love. All the codes have new rhythms, new silences. There is a clean beat. Love is embarrassing for all of us. To be only a composer is not enough. You must give note to understanding, and hold it. Performers should listen intently to one another, and respond at any time; though there are wrong times. Heed the clef. I try to imagine a listener as a force field of senses, a flare of freeform reflexes indefinitely raging; always too small or too vast. Never enough attuned. In exchange, I sought basicness, a fundamentalness, packed at the tiny flyspeck where success and revolt are one. Because every time you think yourself loose from the stony forms ... perhaps you are just too preoccupied. Stay on it. I’m here to show you a new system of love. You must give note to understanding, heed the clef. Sometimes, when you are up late, the sun feels like hard luck—the earth’s natural tempo machinery that disconcerts. But every sun contains all of the information from the suns before. Recursion, that’s the riff, ride it, light like desire charging the air. Meanwhile, a whole armada of risks, what I am to the fullest, kept approaching. And I retreated to the undergrowth, because who gives a shit. The gentry embezzle art, they keep it, and presence is sly. Stay on it.

Nic Leigh's work has appeared in The Collagist, DIAGRAM, UNSAID, Gobbet, and the Atticus Review.