Thursday, April 30, 2009
Her mother had said this, ten years ago
Cross-legged in the soil of her garden
Like it was a parked magic carpet.
And now, the wind that rushed over
The Sydney Opera House and ocean
Spun its salt against her face, wild,
Briny, perfect for preservation.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Patterns of hair in the scalp.
We are marked by the ways we grow or stop growing,
Skin embossed with ridges
And lines, topographical. Highways of indigo unfurl
In my forearm, shuttling blood
Automatically. It’s not my doing. If I had a tail,
Could I flick it with the same ease
With which I twirl my hair or tap my feet?
Probably, but I don’t. So I allow
The traffic of my body to continue, to continue
To bear the impressions left
From the molds that cast me: gridlines, carvings,
Indentations and inscriptions.
Monday, April 27, 2009
They have the correct appendages:
A small white crank that spins freely,
Unmoored to screw’s threads inside;
A latch that clicks like an on/off switch
Into place. These windows don’t
Open, but it seems that they once did,
Allowing the woman who lived here
Before me to stick an arm into
The crisp, bright air, palm down,
Wrist flexed as she admired the sunlight
Glancing off her nails, as a tailor might
Marvel at the sheen of fabric before cutting.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
As you amble through town.
Your gait claims the terrain
And your lips press against
One another, not like a purse
But like the slim mouth
Of a purse, sealed tight.
As you walk, your trousers
Swish, the gasp of a handbag’s
Clasp as it inhales, closing.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The second-place prize (speech and debate)
Three blue buttons (cut from a coat)
Photo of me as a bride (Halloween, age 5)
Postcards blank and full of hieroglyphics
Choir concert leaflet, flaking like dried petals
Tickets with dates in black, fonts unapologetic as ants
That matchbook, the big Korean bill, an unused stamp
And letters that bid me to pore over their messages
All of these things I take out of their box,
Year after year, a ritual in deciphering
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
That fold into themselves, lens over lens:
The gadgetry of fatherhood facilitates seeing
And an awareness of time. I saw a man
Carry his baby in a sling across his torso—
Unhaired head on flannelled chest,
Small round body draped low against
His father’s belly.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Terms to describe the borders of one’s dress
Have altered. When did you last (if ever) observe
a bracelet-length sleeve, cropped to expose the forearm?
V-neck, polo, crew we know, but what
Of Queen Anne, portrait, Sabrina? Tea-length
Has unravelled to mini, baring thigh
Where the calf or ankle once peeked through.
At the hem, or neck, or sleeve of any garment,
Limits rise and fall, a stage curtain
Showcasing skin, a body in the world.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Low clatter of tables being dragged out of doors,
Of carts of pralines being wheeled and steered to corners.
Seven hours earlier, men heavy and ungraceful
as drenched sponges sloshed their weight into one another,
women, strangers, stone doorways. Everywhere collisions
or threats of collisions: girls on borrowed balconies,
hands yanking shirts to expose the fishlike, jiggling skin,
leaning against the cast iron rails, throwing their voices
into the hazardous night. The stilled and jarring authority
of horses, clopping over plastic cups and paper disintegrating
like oatmeal. When bodies have retreated into homes and hotels,
it’s someone’s job to lug a black hose out into the road
and let loose a flood to clear the grime, to leave
the streets shining, clean as kitchen tiles.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Faces and torsos loom toward me
From the magazine wall at the drugstore.
Many in red gowns with a slight breeze
(proven to sell), with big, bright teeth
Bared in grins. The toothpaste, mere feet
Away, waits and promises to bleach
Your smile. Half embarrassing, half
Enticing, the drugstore’s products draw the eye,
Are handled furtively, examined, smelled.
The pharmacist notices when you select mouthwash.
The pharmacist yawns, plucks pills from a drawer.
They clink like gravel in their orange tube.
Itch creams, fungal ointments, pore cleansers,
Feminine family-planning products:
You grip them cautiously, like euphemisms.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Wrist of leg, sinewy
Achilles heel taut as violinist’s bow,
The fragile branch on which the plump
Stump of a foot hangs.
A narrow glass’s base,
A bud vase, the bell of a trumpet.
Between knee and toe,
Ankle grows weak and cold
When studied. Rotate yours.
How tenuous. How alien.
Friday, April 10, 2009
It’s been years since I’ve driven a car—six,
Since I moved to the city. I’ve grown to love the cabs,
As we all have. Come on, admit it—
Cabs provide a kinder, gentler version
Of servitude. Butlers gave way
To smiling concierges in hotels,
Cooks have pristine prestige, clanging
Pots and cutlery proudly. We still have maids,
And their knees still ache, but they’re paid by the hour,
Or should be. The taxi driver is our
Valet. I’ve toppled into black back seats
Crying, drunk, giddy, absorbed
In processing the day, the cool city
Air streaming into the car
While the driver asks, “Where do you want to go?”
Thursday, April 9, 2009
On nude-colored, patent leather stilts,
The view is different. In the cramped
With trench-coated men, she stands tall,
Reaches an endless arm, tapered
Finger to punch the button for 8.
Her arrival chimes, robotic, majestic,
And she swoops through the doors down the carpeted hall,
Her pumps crushing the tan plush.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Rarely registers across your fair face.
But, like the brand new denim that is pounded and streaked,
Scratched and bleached, you undergo treatments.
To benefit your surfaces. Artificial sun in which you bake,
Elixirs you apply under eyes and neck,
Dustings and powders in which you bask to bronze,
To darken, to treat so that you might appear
As if your environment affects you.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Bangle clang. Stiletto clip-clop.
Even in the quiet moments.
The creak of leather gloves,
Shuffle of glossy papers in the theatre,
At the doctor. Not even our carpeted
Home could muffle her. From the shower,
The thud of toppled bottles, orchestral
Gurgles and yawns. Loud, thunderous,
Raucous, rowdy, call her what you will,
She was bigger than her skin and bones.
Friday, April 3, 2009
A man staggers into a mansion, clutching a ragged felt bear.
He holds it by the threadbare paw and heads for the liquor cabinet.
Faceted decanters fling the light back into his eyes.
The reflected sun feels like splintered glass.
Any and all bottles are ready at hand, waiting for him
To make a choice (scotch), to take the top off and pour.
This isn't a joke, it's literature, a study in prodigal sons.
Amber liquid, brown bear, tawny, stubbled skin,
Tame bear, wild man, glass palace filmed over with dust.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
The city is freckled, pockmarked with openings
that lead to subterranean chasms:
manholes mar the streets like giant thumbprints,
grates grab heels in their lattice,
sewers and drains exhale white clouds
of god knows what. What happens
down there, in inky tunnels and bricked caves?
Are there rats? Villains in cloaks?
More likely, workers in bright orange suits,
Astronauts of the earth.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Across August and September,
And the black blanket of night is more eager
To cloak us all,
I’ll remember summer in the lingering pressure
Between my toes, my flip flop’s phantom finger
Gnawing, insistent at my instep.