Latitude [An Unmade Picture]

by Mathew Weitman

The beginning of the film      made more elaborate 

by silence       [the way a sky is made 

more elaborate without clouds]       & white text 

on a dark screen:      an absurdly long number 

made longer & more absurd by its expression in words 


The letters change: To solve N/S, divide E/W by the time of day 

Coordinates code our time & place 

another example of unseen math 

[the filmmaker could’ve shown a saguaro but didn’t] 


Sightlines produce imaginary figures: the horizon’s subtrahend 

the empty chair      dead letter offices for corresponding stars 


My reading suggests the ocean too must have a meniscus 

as it fills & takes the shape of its container 

In an interview      the director denied familiarity with Cocteau 

when asked about the famous scene 

in which an osprey swallows a mirror & turns into an equation: 

More evidence of π, that’s all 

The world shrugs off an endless sequence: 

seagulls carry spiral shells 

& drop them from great heights 

as they cannot pry them open with their beaks 

[a fact I learned only recently, from the film]


The letters change: If each tree is an algebra, solve for X

Language codes the arithmetic of nature: 

I wander through the integer forest & often lose the weather 


A camera       like a flower       like an eye opens 

& closes      wants or denies       a location’s light

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