John Kinsella

Morgellons
January 10, 2013 Kinsella John

Morgellons

 

Jorge Luis Borges translated Thomas Browne

into seventeenth-century Spanish. I read this

in an interview with Daniel Bourne, whom I know

but haven’t seen (in Ohio) for many years.

Borges told Daniel, that ‘I’ – then ‘we’ – ‘took

a chapter out of Urne Buriall’ and rendered

it unto, or maybe in the manner of, Quevedo.

 

The slippage was in the Latin, as is the slippage

in the hairy children of ‘Languedock, called the Morgellons’,

noted in Browne’s ‘Letter to a Friend’, and sourced

to name a hairs-under-the-skin scourge of modernity,

seen by some as ‘delusional parasitosis’.

 

The spread of this disease is concomitant (we read)

with that of the web, a metaphor for invasiveness,

to catch by proxy or suggestion. The psychosomatics

of living in the windfall of uranium decantation ponds

at Narbonne (Colonia Narbo Martius), commune

of Languedoc-Roussillon, where we would have gone

 

with its ‘Languedock’-like spelling, our nine-year-old

prey to uranium hairs that grow unseen, undeclared,

only just recognised. Precise or imprecise as a word,

a coinage of a learned and inquisitive stylist

of the English language; Romantic irritant.

John Kinsella’s new collection of poetry is Firebreaks (W. W. Norton, 2016). He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and Professor of Literature and Sustainability at Curtin University.