Bin Ramke’s poems are not easy reading, but I find them fascinating in their particulars.  In “Tendrils” (Theory of Mind: New & Selected Poems, p. 191), he writes:

“Replicate” can be pronounced several different ways―one of these, as an adjective, can refer to an insect wing folded back on itself.  From the Latin plicare, to fold, also replicare, to unfold or to reply.  An answer as an unfolding.  To speak, for instance, to a figure with wings, and then to see the wings begin to unfold, as your answer.  As in, “I love you,” and she unfolds her wings to leave you.

Mid-paragraph I get up to check my own dictionaries, Latin and Oxford English. My dictionary says the Latin verb can also mean unrolling.  What’s the difference between a fold and a roll, I wonder.

Replica comes from the same root: a copy.  So that replicate is also to make a copy of.  Making copies is in Ramke’s poem too.  But I am stuck on folding, unfolding, and why isn’t it also refolding–folding again?

Making a copy neither unfolds nor answers.  Poems do not copy, nor do they give answers.  Poems unfold, but if I said “this poem replicates” you would be thoroughly confused, thus demonstrating that “replicate” no longer carries this third meaning.

This is no way to read a poem; I forget entirely what came before and so am unprepared to pick up the poem after this definitive interruption. (Rupture= break: erupt, disrupt, interrupt).  Is this Ramke’s fault?  I’m the one who went for the dictionary.

The “she” who unfolds her insect wings.  Why does she matter to him?  He doesn’t say.  His language hides her in its many folds.

Language will not stay still.

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