I left my love.
For looking back at my love, I had withered him/her.
He/she had altered to bluster.
So yes, I will sing myself stupid on a nature hike.
I will sing for the flowerbeds,
for the Rose of Sharon, for tulips
around the teensiest of windmills,
for the pokeweed and hedgehogs,
for the displaced citizens of New Orleans,
for the mothers of the dead.
My voice alone is like a microwave
that thaws out frozen dinner entrees; a timbre
that tricks the beasts
as if it transposed my bodily odors
into the music of dogs. I will sing
to endure the song of myself.
For the force of my love had confounded the dead,
bothered his/her lips, quickened decay,
advanced him/her from sponge to ether,
until at last she/he had curled up like smoke
in the parlors and back
into the nothingness of the unattained (a hell of promises).
Sure, some people might say
I had unconscious motives looking back—
hunting for fire ants,
a spider-web duster with that
London Fog death-aspect, or flies
on a flypaper tongue.
And later I'd sing for the camping frogs.
Some people might say that even as a child it seemed like I would
suffer some irreversible fate or my yearbook should read
most likely to be expelled from the fields of Asphodel,
from the unending aftermaths. Whatever!
That I should set music to the present's imperfect tense
in the eye of the lotus, etcetera,
or that life is nothing without resistance
& perhaps I had simply mistaken the proposition
if/then for multiple choice, like a woman.
Ergo I went ahead and spoiled it for all humankind.
I even saw myself flying
in the last-ditch, chase-sequence of this plot
out of the pits, past the heroes and demi-gods, the boosters
and capitalists. Say in death
we become like trees sprouting
our ends, and there is no salvation in that,
though the rafters and stalagmites
might lure you in.
So if you say "whither thou goest I will go"
I must not tell jokes on myself.
I must be serioso like Serpico, Ralph Nader, or Virginia Woolf
though intense noticing eventually leads to the mums' death.
Death to the broom flowers!
Death to the cats batting the poinsettias again and again until the petals
drop, like thin red tortillas.
I mustn't forget
the battles or the scarred or the dead.
I mustn't empower you
or dwell in my own book, in my leaves of glitter
or the marvel of a city within
or the shutters that open on a glimmer inside the city
on the houses of silver
or snow that thickens on the cobbled roofs
or the thicknesses of bodies toggled in wool
lest sighting the Jews
soon to be shipped out
to Buchenwald, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Mauthausen,
I begin to see how the peddler shelling nuts forgets to notice
and every month/every year thereafter
even at the precise moment of reading this
as victims turn into perpetrators and back again.
I must not surrender to the micro-world, to the text
or the exploitation of grief.
To indwelling, unrelieved sought-after privacy.
To the death-of-the-author,
multiple subjectivities, or simply, fiction:
the lure of lamps in remote towers
like burnt-up memory stars. The promises
of sleep or sex or inwardness
while hiding my pounds of flesh
for some kind of shyness. Self-deprecating
affection again. Not that–
as if my dreams weren't serious, doubling back
as they do
for the gingerbread town or the jamboree
or the lullabies
as sleepers succumb to a deeper scent
or stave off oblivion for a sip of
honeysuckle, grape, or elsewhere, just plain food
or love for the mouth.
BEE IS FOR B
If you stand in line with the other children, you will be saved.
You must raise your arms above your head
and do not breathe until you remember God.
Shelley seemed in love with principle though he was rarely
principled in love. Would you link bird to fist
or un-boned stays, rapt by sin, mid-hip?
When you get older, do not break your hip,
for example, skidding outside the shower trying to save
the soap that alights from your left fist,
airborne yet slightly gravitas. It's Birdland in your head.
The lyrics so scattered in the fray, you rarely
recall words. Or think of God
as the body's conundrum. Though God
it is: O physical invert, hipster.
After all the braided rules, how rare
the thighs, or hymns to the unsaved,
to the non-skid bathmats, to anything outside the head
in matching yellows, to all the home girls, or who is
otherwise known by some alias, e.g., Aunt Bea.
Bee, Be, B the Alpha's Second, Near-Perfection, like G-O-D
pumped into human form, a plump and floral apron
in the pantry in her curtain-ass and swaddled hips.
Our Lady of Gingerbread, who saves
the lemon slivers in snips of foil for the next tea, a rare
blend of chamomile and opium. Are you raring
to achieve normalcy through oblivion? Are
you? Stitched in winter's waste-bed, saving
the colors? Shelley was banished for hating God
and King. Would that we could be so hip
and unsupported, yet world-wandering, heading
into the thickets, the seas and yews, albeit unfaithful and ahead
of time. Loved, repudiated and loved. Not so rare.
Imagine Aunt Bea in bed. I could unearth those hips
from her Mayberry girdle, loosen her ashen hair and be
moved by B. Moved by her God-love,
even though as Frances Bavier she saved
her wardrobe and Studebaker and headed
South to Siler City, NC, a goodly place, as rare
as parts or star ships are.
Rebecca Reynolds' first book, Daughter of the Hangnail (New Issues Press, 1997), received the 1998 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her second book, The Bovine Two-Step, was released by New Issues Press in 2002. She works as a dean at Douglass Residential College, Rutgers University.