Michael Tugendhat’s poetic oeuvre is about the limits of the human body that place us into contact with the world, with other sufferers. What I’m Afraid to Show You shows us hidden wounds and the parts of our pathologies that hide in plain sight. It brings together two contradictory ideas: that the gaps and spaces of the body that can be cleansed are also those that can be contaminated, and that both processes entail an ache: “pure / all that impurity washed away / like ice cold water through / a missing tooth.” Central to this ache is the desire for the gaze. Tugendhat’s poems become window panes through which we watch ourselves watching—where looking becomes part of a shared documentary experience, and how fragmented and fused the language must be that records the watching.
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