Saturday, May 10, 2014

Nothing Was Explained

I have few mementos, a watch, a bracelet,
a fear of the past, my mother pursuing me frantically
with a glass of milk, my mouth coated
with a while mucilage. I spat and spat.
It was the stroke of three and the bases
chalked on the tar with bits of stone.
Nothing back there, nothing, her short
palms over the candles, circling, mumbling,
a dishcloth balanced on the bun of her hair.

Exquisite feelings, like small lizards
in a terrarium, delicate teacups
in the fingers of old women,
their pale heads drifting
under blue-tinted cumulus clouds,
a flawless teardrop flowing surrealistically
up a hillside, there was none of that,
no, none of that.

There was death and thick foods,
yelling, impatience, mother
jabbing her religious forefinger
into the ribs of the pig—a disgruntled figure
whom I remember vaguely like a wrist
seen through a keyhole. She bathed me painfully,
sandpapering my face with a washcloth
till I shone like her silver.

The pullet submerged in water, salted, spanked
into cleanliness, boiled, the broken-down flesh
tasteless, a mouth-filler,
there must be more to her in my mind than
caricature. I hear my voice squawking
like a hornbill and I know she is with me.
I am not myself, I refuse. Complete victim, like her,
I have compassion for us all.
I'm not being unfair,
just asking, just asking.

I was a guest at her death, a foreigner,
and immigrant from down the hall.
I'm not quite sure what happened to either of us.
I look back through the distance,
the wolf dropping on my back,
the witch, the dead bodies,
the deep closet that went endlessly into nightmare—
contusions, pinpricks in my brain,
precedents for the woman's face
staring back at me through the empty window.

I'm tired of abusing.
I can see gravestones in all directions,
and infants, and thin children squinting in the sun.
The slipcover roses have blossomed,
the stuffed chairs have been freed.

She kept me spotless and healthy,
and held my forehead when I puked.
A thin slice of me is jeweled with raisins
and walnuts, and in my brain are recipes
for at least competent love.
I have so much to learn,
so much to recall . . . .

My finger has a slight cut on it, it throbs, 
but my palm is still open, although each hour
producing less and less.

(This poem was published in the final 
issue if Ironwood. The last lines here are
slightly different.)

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