Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009: On the Street…Bev, Yasmin and Garance, London

It started with her widow’s peak.
Bev took a razor to its edge,
Made a quick swipe at her hairline,
And voila! The blunt edge of black
Looked back at her, clean and neat.
The next week, when her gold watch
Ripped out a few of the hairs on her wrist,
She considered her forearms, the
Dark follicles reminding her of fur.
Her razor swept them clean of black,
Leaving only olive skin gleaming
And smooth, like desert sand.
Little did she know that she could not undo
This cutting, and when the sharp shoots
Poked their way through her skin
Like cactus thorns, kittens’ teeth,
She vowed to shave, to pluck, to remove
These dark, itchy pieces of herself.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009: On the Street…Plaids & Dots, London

A man once said that the memory of daffodils
Brought him more happiness than the actual flowers.
Is it true? Does the garden that (dances, he would say)
Haunts your brain rouse more than just the senses?

The cottonwood tree outside my elementary
School, for example, was tall and green.
Each spring, it loosed white puffs
To drift through the windows, through the halls

Like summer snow, feathers, tiny clouds.
What’s missing from the daffodil equation
Is the layeredness of memory.
I remember the tree, it made me happy

At the time, it makes me happy now,
Sure. But there is longing when I think
Of cottonwood blowing like snow across my face.
It’s not the tree I long for, not the rose

You miss twenty years after the man
Has gone, not your mother’s lavender.
I’m wistful for myself, for the wonder
Sprung from the cotton suspended overhead.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009: On the Street....Hudson St., NYC

As a blackboard clings to the dim outline
Of whatever’s been written and erased before

As someone has traced a request in the grime
On my car’s window: Clean Me, it implores

As the logo for the lemon-lime
Soda summons the taste in the grocery store

As a voice calling out, Dinner Time!
Evokes, invents nostalgia (who knows what for?)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009: On the Street….Blue Denim, NYC

In the 80’s and 90’s, the family sitcom
Ruled the roost. Sometimes the family
Was unconventional but always, always
Unshakably wholesome (see Blossom,
Full House, Family Matters, Who’s the Boss
For clarification), give or take an episode
About a girl addicted to diet pills,
Or the distant threat of a divorce,
or vague concerns of unemployment solved
within thirty minutes, a swiftly-passing storm.
Where have those shows gone?
In their place, doctors and nurses solve
Medical mysteries, fool around in elevators,
And detectives luxuriate in the weird clues
That spell out murder (breakfast cereal +
Snowshoe + fingernail clipping=the girlfriend).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009: On the Street…Sixth Ave., NYC

My sweat-wetted jacket, my silk scarf dotted with pinprick holes.
Even the mossy, stained granite wall
that I skim with my fingertips.
Everything’s permeable, porous.

What do I absorb from outside in? Of course, unintended scents:
coffee, curry, bleach latch on for hours after exposure.
But what else? Does my cell phone

burn my brain, or the microwave shrivel my intestines,
should I happen to stand in front of it, waiting? One guy I knew,
his infidelity was discovered by his girlfriend

who kissed him, slapped him. You smell like a woman,
she’d growled. What has rubbed off on me,
leapt onto my skin like germs,
lice, moss, ultraviolet rays, bandages?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday, February 19, 2009: On the Street….Bold on Sixth Ave., NYC

I have a friend whose idea of the highest compliment
Is “Well, don’t you look the part.”
She veils herself in voluminous scarves and trenchcoats,
Brown hats with rolled-down rims, collars enveloping her chin--
The stuff of generic disguise.

She doesn’t cross the street—she flees,
Flees from the stares and gun-shaped fingers
Aimed her way,
From those wondering if she’s someone famous
Or someone they used to know,
Now incognito.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009: On the Street….Another Herringbone Tweed, Paris


Contact sports are unavoidable in the Western world.
Football, hockey, rugby demand that bodies collide

and that we cheer for our team. Teams are differentiated
geographically and by colour. Locate yourself here,

in the mass of bodies shouting together, swathed in
loyalty, nostalgia, nationalism. If your team should lose,

be ready to congratulate your rival fans. A swift clap
on the back, a gruff smile of concession will suffice.

Then we’ll march for our cars, scatter to our homes
and remove the dazzling colours from our weary bodies.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday, February 15, 2008: On the Street…Broadway, NYC

The short bangs, crisp bobs of the 20’s
are back again! Silent movie stars have been
released from screen and reel to roam the streets.

Today on the bus, a Louise Brooks ringer
swung her brown, gleaming eyes from passenger
to passenger, and yawned. The sound

was equivalent to a leopard stretching.
Somewhere in me an iron cage door
unbolted and screeched open.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009: On the Street….Leather & Track, Milano

Let me tell you the difference
Between a sprinter and
A cross-country runner.

Both are fast, sure,
But their bodies before they run
Are poised for different battles.

One’s body strains, adjusts,
A car’s tires shifting,
Backing into a space.

These exact movements
Preempt explosion. The other
Runner’s body melts,

Ready to absorb distance.
An arrow held and loosed,
Soaring steady, straight.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009: On the Street….Outerwear/Jacket Hybrid, Florence

Michael declined the no-parking sign’s recommendation.
Easing his Volvo alongside the expanse of curb,

he thought that certainly, he was the luckiest man he knew,
the luckiest man in the city. Traffic signs might not

acknowledge the perfect luck that hovered above him
like a shining halo, that earned him each of his three jobs,

his subsequent firing from the casino that folded,
his cell phone that channeled tens of calls, invoking

honey-toned messages strained through smiles. Why, here’s one
now, making Michael’s phone glow green as Kryptonite.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009: On the Street….Mr. Valentino Ricci, Florence

Why has the parasol faded from fashion?
Not so different from its dimmer cousin,
The parasol shields from sun, creates a dome
Of handheld shadow. The umbrella has withstood,
Has persevered, all pointy spine and batwing nylon,
Shuddering under the burden of its airy persistence.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday, February 06, 2009: On the Street…Grandpa’s Coat, Paris

The lining of her green jacket
Drooped from beneath her hem,
An additional shadow clinging
Like a child to a parent.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009: On the Street…The Green Hornet, Paris

She sliced the eggplant
On the wooden cutting board
That belonged to her parents
Or mine

The water bubbled
Over the stove’s small flame
And the oven trapped the heat

I chose a glass,
A champagne flute, a gift from someone
I’d met twice, and filled it with

The fat circles
Of aubergine lay smooth, wet,
And pale. The cross-sections bore no rings,
Like trees

Which indicates
The method of growth: not in layers,
But as a whole, the purple skin

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009: On the Street…Beige & Brown, Rome

On Sanibel Island, I shoved my feet into the heavy sand
within the water’s reach. The waves dug foamy fingertips
into the beach, culling stones and shells from land.
I bent to see them, pink and smooth, like almonds dipped
in candy coating. I gasped when they moved. The shells swam
down, dotting the sand with their penmanship.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009: On the Street…Big Denim, Florence

In elementary school gym class, twenty-five
Seven year olds would circle a parachute,
Pull it taut, flick their wrists and puff it up
Like a bedsheet, and would rush underneath

And sit on the edge to trap the air, to keep
The parachute aloft. We’d stoop inside the dome,
A new space we’d invented, and watch the walls
Sag around us, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.