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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Etter

Cole Swensen's On Walking On (Nightboat, 2017), second selection

A second selection of favourite passages:

People walking, many tonight, and almost in rhythm, as if it were a way of collectively resisting the wind.

from 'A Walk on May 31'

Stevenson claimed that the walker becomes the landscape by

the end of the day and the view, a living thing with no sense of time.

end of 'Stevenson'

What is the wander, what aimless shelter, what within

a very small room. Or we could call it a city.


...the gentle persistence of walking

from friend to friend.


And in between, le flâneur, invisible against a forest of ghosts

to whom the slow, wherein the wry, in which a slice of light

amid the blind spot, the white space, the terrain vague, flits.

from 'Nerval'

a cat slips

along the top of a wall that the night draws and then erases.

from 'Woolf: "Street Haunting"'

The cat slips through the cafe, particularly the sidewalk part of it, a few times a night, always clearly heading somewhere else, looking neither to the left nor right, but leaving in its wake this 'we' who affectionately watch it pass.

from 'A Walk on July 1'

For Walser, a walk usually began by putting on a hat. Among a room of ghosts.

To the quiet end, if one could walk the lost. For Walser, to walk was to unfold

an origami bird as a door unfolds a world.


...Walser thought the form of a road beautiful

in itself, citing that its joy exists outside of time, or rather beside it, so Walser

walked along the side of the road singing under his breath to the grass.


Everything good is based therein, he said

again to walk again the very same route turns time into space.


...the volatile

occasion of every glance as each can capture every moving thing

simultaneously throughout the drifting trees....

from 'Walser: The Walk'

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