Jameson Fitzpatrick
March 17, 2023
Olga Danylenko

In an essay on sleep and dreaming, the Hungarian writer László F. Földényi considers his impulse to observe himself falling asleep, “to accompany myself, as it were, following from behind, watching my own self slowly growing sleepy as I left a state of wakefulness. To watch it slowly lose its contours and turn into something about which I have almost no knowledge.” The nature of this company cannot be corralled into any certain language, except to say “that it certainly cannot refer to itself as ‘I’.” The dream that vivifies Jameson Fitzpatrick’s poem “Ingénue” is of a different kind—animated less by somnolence, and more by desire—and yet it shares with Földényi’s the sense of not being wholly knowable. “[B]ack home in the provinces / with nothing behind but landscape,” the child dreams for “something like this / life”; it is in the gap opened up by “like” where the imagination roves, where want accrues. And after all, doesn’t desire always disturb the myth of a cohesive self—flinging the self outward in search of what it seeks? In the final lines of Fitzpatrick’s poem, the first person enters and the dream—having been, in a sense, attained—recedes. Gone are the infinite wilds of the child’s dreams; what remains is only an impoverished language with which to name them. Where the self contracts, so too does the world.

Claire Schwartz

Listen to Jameson Fitzpatrick read "Ingénue."


What did the child dream of
back home in the provinces,
with nothing behind but landscape?
Something like this
life, though it felt different in the dream.
As though she had the outline right,
but not what was required to fill it.
During this period she: struggled to spell the word “silhouette” correctly, had a favorite tree.
She didn’t wonder if she’d get lonesome for the valley, though.
Beyond the field was more field, more forest
becoming mountains.
Though later, before certain audiences, I’d learn to call them hills.

Jameson Fitzpatrick is the author of Pricks in the Tapestry (Birds, LLC, 2020). She teaches first-year writing at New York University.