Underneath/Ink: A Story

During the 2018 Translating Vitalities Lab, Christie Brown and Carla Nappi collaborated to form what you see below. Christie held a workshop for the collective that set up a series of constraints for working with drawing materials. Participants were asked to choose three items from a list, one of which was a drawing material, and make an image with them. Carla chose ink and one of Christie’s prepositional drawings (below) as two of her constraints to develop the following story, which will become part of a larger fiction project The Elizabeths.




In the morning, the sun seeps from the horizon and it’s cold as she lifts into life alone.

And so she looks up and she parts her lips and breathes up underneath the bench where she has woken and she lets its shadow fall upon her in a liquid blanket beneath which she falls back asleep.

When it warms she wakens and rises and lets the inky blanket fall away, where (unwarmed by her body) it gases back into shadow.

She stretches by herself and she sits on the bench, the weight of her turning the wood airy, and she watches as bits of it climb into a cloud that mists back down upon her, drops petrifying into splinters in her hair.

She brushes them out and breathes in with her eyes and decides to make a poem in a series of turnings.

A sparrow settles on the bench next to her, and she turns from it. It turns brittle.

The sunlight pools at her side, and she turns from it. It turns glassy.

A little pile of splinters has shaken from her hair to the ground and turned liquid in the warmth of the sun, and she turns from it. It turns stony.

Then she turns back to the brittle bird, and the glassy light, and the stony wood. And she cracks feathers from the one, and breaks shards from the next, and drops the last on the ground and collects some of the shatter.

She makes space next to her on the bench, and she arranges the fragments into three collaged lines, and her glance travels over them as she reads the verses one after the other. Then she lowers her lips to the fragments, and she whispers to them with the warmth of her breath, and she covers her body with the now-fluid fabric of her poem.

The heat of the blanket on her body turns her to liquid, and as her fluid flesh commingles with the music she has wrapped herself in, the story in the music recognizes her and melts her into rivulets that snake across the dirt as her body uses itself to write the next verse of the poem. The ground reads the ink of her, soaking her into itself and drawing her down to the magma of its marrow. And there she bubbles, ready to explode into the air in a sonnet scrawling its conclusion into the sides of the clouds.

Tonight they will rain her down, pooling her together in the cooling of the night beneath the bench, so she can wake once more tomorrow and begin writing once again.

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