Tag Archive for 'marriage'

An Interview with Fertile Source Guest Poetry Editor Kate Bolton Bonnici

Kate Bolton Bonnici and familyEditor’s Note:

The Fertile Source is proud to announce Kate Bolton Bonnici as our first Guest Poetry Editor for the coming year. We first met Kate in our Poetry of Motherhood class (offered last spring, through our sister site, Mother, Writer, Mentor). Both Jessica and I were moved to hear that the sort of gritty, honest, grappling poems we publish at The Fertile Source had, over time, provided solace and inspiration as Kate faced her own challenges with mothering while writing.

As a result of Kate’s vibrancy, enthusiasm, and level of engagement with poetry (both her own and that of others), we realized we wanted to keep working with her. A graduate of Harvard University and New York University School of Law, Kate writes poetry that speaks for itself (read five of her poems here). Starting September 1, 2012, please send poetry submissions to kate [@] catalystbookpress [dot] com.

Welcome, Kate! –Tania Pryputniewicz (Managing Poetry Editor, focusing now on role as Art Editor; send art submissions to tania [@] catalystbookpress [dot] com.)

Robbery” tenderly charts a fragility between husband and wife, both partners attempting to stay connected while parenting (scrapping for time together, time apart—the need for time apart landing in this poem more squarely with the wife). Can you talk to us about the emotional landscape of the poem and the process of writing it?

“Robbery” was my attempt to explore the complex space between parents after the birth of their children, the ways their relationship to each other has changed, their understanding of self has changed. They are new people now — overwhelmed, physically and emotionally exhausted, in love with their children, tired of their children, frantic for time together and time apart. I think of it as treading water in an impossibly beautiful sea.

Parenting the children you love creates a remarkable place, but you still must keep your head afloat; it’s hard to reach out for your adult partner when you’re so busy flapping and kicking and taking big gulps of air. Sometimes you remember to lie back, float, look up at the turtle-shaped bits of clouds, and it’s a nice time to reach over, hold hands. Of course, that’s usually when the other one is stuck in his own treading-water thing, and he can’t hear you pointing out that your funny turtle-cloud just morphed into a pink dinosaur.

Our children have deepened my relationship to my own husband; we are fused together now in a profound way. That said, it is so easy to miss each other in the clamoring chaos of daily demands — including the demand for separate space and time for the self.

A quiet grace emanates from your poem, “Morning, Los Angeles,” from the opening admission, “Two now reach for me, want to hold / more than I can give,” which sets the stage—adds a simple poignancy to a line halfway through that reads, “My mother went for a run / and didn’t return.” Where in the drafts of writing the poem did the mother of the narrator enter the poem?

The narrator’s mother entered this poem in the first draft, but I’m not entirely sure where she originated from — one of the mysteries of the imagination or the unconscious, I guess. I set out to write about obsession and, as the mother of two young children (the younger being very young at the time this poem was written), what emerged was not autobiographical or historical truth, but two things, really — an emotional truth (the utterly consuming feeling of having “two now reach for me”) and a need to stretch this feeling to its most painful outcome, abandonment. In the poem, the narrator walks through her own mothering experience under the weight of this loss. It lurks, this pain, this temptation.

“Blood lines” picks up the narrative thread of mother haunting, examining in part how in becoming a mother oneself, memories of one’s own mother resurrect, reappear on a cellular level, here along the axis of “torn perineum.” How did you arrive at that amazing final image of that narrator’s mother’s birth-ravaged body, “holding her re-written body like a shaky glass egg that could lope away end- / over-end down the street”?

The narrator’s mother in “Blood Lines” did not appear until significantly far into the revision process. Earlier versions of the poem were purely a communion between mother and child, but somewhere along the way, I knew I needed to get more precise about the pleasure-pain tension one feels after birth, even a peaceful one, but especially if you have experienced tearing or an episiotomy. (I remember first hearing about episiotomies from my mother and being horrified at the notion. How barbaric! Then, contrary to my wishes, I had one with my first birth. During the birth of my second child, I had some tearing, but the dear midwife who sewed me up was so gentle, just as she was throughout the birth. Her soothing voice set me on a different course of healing.)

When I wrote this poem, I had in my mind the image of a quilt, of the literal lines woven by perineal stitches, the way my birth marked my mother’s body in this specific, physical way, the way the birth of my daughters did the same for me. This was the image I kept coming back to, and it led to the memory of new mothers taking their first steps after birth, the timid, ginger putting of one foot in front of the other, after your body has gone through the all-consuming process of birthing a separate being.

More, that fuzzy period just after birth felt like the first time I’d really understood my own mother, an honest glimpse into her experience. She was also there with me during the delivery of my first child, rubbing my calf, and would have been there for the second, except I needed her to do the important work of watching my firstborn.

In “My Former Object of Everything,” you take the risk to bare the push and pull all mothers (who have more than one child) learn to withstand: dual love for the firstborn and intense frustration aimed at that firstborn when the second child comes along and that firstborn does what he/she does best: clamor for attention, etc. How did you arrive at your final draft? Are there other tensions (for mothers or fathers) you have yet to see explored in poetry that either you wish to explore or you’d like to see others exploring in poetry?

In my line of work (work away from writing, that is), I see tremendous pain in family relationships, families that are deeply splintered and broken, often wounded beyond repair. I think this experience underlies some of my writing about family. It sneaks up and darkens the world of the poem I’m creating.

That said, I was blindsided by the difficulty of caring for two children. I was blindsided by how draining the first child’s great need would be and how the strength of my connection with the baby would create unexpected tension. As with the other pieces in this group, I wanted to take my emotional experience and run with it into a poem, moving away from the literal and autobiographical into a new poetic space, one that would, I hoped, illuminate what hides at the fringes of the self.

Of all the poems in this submission, this poem most grew and shrunk over the course of the writing-revising process. With each draft, it expanded and compressed, expanded and compressed, until finding its current state.

I am fascinated by (and a little afraid of) missed connections between people, and the anger and frustration generated when we cannot connect. The theme of missed connections threads through all of these poems, I think, as I struggle to understand the realities of family life. With each poem, I try to write what is hard, what gives me pause, what makes me worry. When I feel myself retreating, questioning, looking over my shoulder, I think, there, there it is, write that! Some days I am brave — I write. Other days, I put down my pen. Fix another cup of coffee. Put away toys or turn up the radio. I don’t listen. When I write, I’m trying to listen, to be willing to explore the fullness of a moment, in all its mystery, glory, fear, dullness, uncertainty. I’m trying to push this further, to be braver, to write it all.

Can you talk to us about your relationship to writing, before and after the birth of your children?

Midway along my pregnancy with my second child, I felt a strong need to start writing poetry, after spending my entire writing life focused on fiction and creative nonfiction. It was quite a shift, but a necessary one for me. I’ve written poetry almost exclusively for the past year and a half. There are days when I write less because of my children. Then, there are days when I connect more intensely than ever to my writing and feel ravenous for it — in part because of my children. Plus, they give me tons of material. Joy and suffering and the gritty beauty of the everyday — it’s all there in the relationship with and experience of children.

How does poetry figure, if it does, in your professional life as a lawyer?

I’ve struggled with answering this question, and I think the answer is that there is a complex relationship between my lawyering and my creative writing. Stripped to their most fundamental cores, words and narrative are central to both fields. I am more precise in my legal writing because of my work as a poet. I edit my legal work on a micro level; words matter desperately in law as in poetry. And good, honest storytelling is just as necessary. Each side in a lawsuit must tell their story their way; the lawyer is there to help facilitate that process.

The tougher, but equally necessary, answer to this question is to consider the way my career as a lawyer influences my poetry. I practice primarily in the areas of criminal defense and family law, two deeply rewarding, deeply important (in the sense of fundamental rights and basic justice and all that good stuff), but deeply difficult fields. Frankly, no one seeks out my help unless their life is falling apart. The substance can get morbidly dark indeed, and I am witness to tremendous sadness and personal anguish as a matter of course. I think the experience of standing near the unfolding of intense, traumatic episodes in the lives of others has challenged and changed my writing.

How do you find time to work, to write, to parent, to tend to a marriage?

Ah, this is the question, isn’t it? In fits and spurts, frantically, often poorly and with bursts of goodness and delirious devotion. Seriously, as we all experience, every day is a struggle. Every day something gets shut out or forgotten or plainly rejected. (Today that thing was a balanced meal. Sometimes cereal will have to do.) I try to write daily or at least most days, and I consider time spent revising to be time spent writing. I often write late at night snuggled up next to a sleeping baby. I also run, reaching a nice, meditative place where I can work on ongoing poems or construct new ones.

I am thankful for my mother, my role model, and I am grateful to my husband, for truly getting it. Some days when my older daughter pretends she’s a grown up, she says she’s a mother and a lawyer and, oh, she must go write a poem! On those days I think I’m doing okay.

Any special poems or writing mentors you wish to share with our readers?

My aunt, Patricia Foster, has been my lifelong writing mentor — patiently reading my stories and poems (going all the way back to elementary school rhyme schemes and princess illustrations), feeding me a steady stream of new books for as long as I can remember, providing a template for the writers’ life, and crafting so many lovely sentences for me to soak in and learn from. Her novel, Girl from Soldier Creek, is forthcoming in October.

There are so many poets whose work I admire deeply — Beth Ann Fennelly, Natasha Trethewey, Mary Oliver, Laura Kasischke, James Galvin, just to name a few.

I just finished reading Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. Exquisite, haunting, and yet breathing with little gusts of joy.

Five Poems by Kate Bolton Bonnici

ROBBERY

The children sleep, closed
faces warm and lush,
round fruits. I leave them
curled in blankets to curl
around my computer
or The New Yorker.

My husband asks me to sit with him
on the sofa. I see too late

he meant to be kind.

His voice held something
warm and timid, an offering
gone now. He licks
his hurt by saying
I’ve abandoned us.

I didn’t mean to bruise the pear.
My thumb pressed
heavy

into milky green flesh.
We flush with misread wants.

I race to catch the only scrap
of self I can still see.
It shudders away, thin
paper napkin tossed
along the freeway. I run,
breathing too fast to tell him

I’m lost.

MORNING, LOS ANGELES

Two now reach for me, want to hold
more than I can give. We stroll into clusters
of flies. Their hard, green bodies pop
against my face. My older daughter shouts,
“Shoo, fly!” I wave a pocket
of purring wings. The baby in my arms
nudges my chest, wanting. A white truck drives
past, radio loud enough to vibrate
my shoulders. I taste it in my throat,
chew on the squall of voices
and potholes. My mother went for a run
and didn’t return. She wrote a letter
from Phoenix of birds rising black
in the desert. Above us, a gold-throated
hummingbird shivers, suspended
like the dime-store Christmas ornament
on my father’s tree, glitter-sweet angel
spinning.

BLOOD LINES

Daughter, we are floating.

Your fingers whisper. Somewhere my mother jerks awake. On the yellow couch. Beside the kitchen counter. She remembers her name. You sleep with one new hand on my chest, asking for my breath. We have only just met, but you curl into me. Your lips flutter and click, nursing through our sleep.

Beneath us, Los Angeles. Lights shudder like the trilling mouths of birds. In the old place, robins swarmed South, draping an orange net over the yard and yanking berries from the hedge. Our front walk graffitied with their purple-berry shit.

I bled when you were born. Your sweet, bulging body pressed through me with all I’d rejected. An emptying. The sound of my groaning brought you caked-white, mouth searching, blue cord heaving between us: I offered up everything. When it was time for me to stand, I couldn’t, and we waited a little longer in the space of your first being.

Morning emerges now, dust fizzing on the plastic, half-closed blinds. You wake with startled arms, a beetle on her back, belly warm. You need to press your cheek to my cheek, mouth open to my neck. Breath smudged with milk.

I lie with you on the crackling chuck pad, aching where your body opened up mine to be born, sacred space stitched pink. I once wove these lines upon my mother. For days after she shuffled close-legged, torn perineum, holding her re-written body like a shaky glass egg that could lope away end-

over-end down the street.

MY FORMER OBJECT OF EVERYTHING

You tore me as you emerged a formed
person, saying masquerades, gorgeous birds
dissolve, we have strings for our antiquities
.

I forget that you are so young, that you were only
just born, in the scheme of things. I can’t stop saying
what you will remember years later to your daughter,
words frothing like yellow-jackets in the black oak,
their flashing bodies hard pebbles, stinging,
stinging into death.

You are three: Don’t hit me.
I could. I almost do. You know this before me.
Between us, the baby you once were nurses,
her mouth noisy and pleased.

You hold one hand on your hip, a painted tambourine
in the other, purple plastic heels rattling too big on your feet.
My name is Linda, smiling a thin-mouthed secret:
I am a mother too.

The baby mumbles. You play the bright tambourine.
See, I’m laughing! Don’t you see?
The tambourine chatters and skates like branches scraping
the tin roof of the barn where I hid, a sound

large enough to blanket the missing earth beneath us,
loud enough to soften
our fall.

I CAN’T REMEMBER SLEEPING ALONE

From the time you slid out with all that blood and feces,
you began to leave me. I began to leave you.

You clutch my necklace, my thumb, my nipple. A strand
of my hair loops around your ear. Outside, a green truck

heaves past. Our walls shiver. I lay you in the little-used
brown bassinet. Your cry leaps out, a coiled and trembling

deer. I wait too long to answer, air clotted like my grandmother’s
gelatin salads, tender boiled bones, my arms lost, sockets

aching, unable to reach for you again. Under the weight
of your sound I am quiet; I don’t tell everything. Dark words

skulk, broken-eyed, waiting. Some days omission
is the best love I can give.

Kate Bolton Bonnici is a writer, mother, and lawyer living with her family in Los Angeles. Kate is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University School of Law. She is originally from rural Alabama.

Accolades for This Thing Called The Future

J.L. Powers

I’m proud to take a moment to put Catalyst Book Press and Fertile Source founder and editor Jessica Powers in the limelight for recent accolades for her book, This Thing Called the Future (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Not only listed by Kirkus as a Best Young Adult Book of 2011, This Thing Called the Future appeared this winter on the Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YLSA) 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.
Here’s what Kirkus had to say about This Thing Called The Future:
 
Set in an impoverished South African shantytown where post-Apartheid freedom is overshadowed by rampant AIDS and intractable poverty, this novel takes a loving, clear-eyed look at the clash of old and new through the experience of one appealing teenager. Khosi, 14, lives in an all-female household with her sister, Zi, and frail grandmother, Gogo, subsisting on Gogo’s pension and Mama’s salary as a teacher in the city (she comes home on weekends). Everyone in Khosi’s world is poor. Where the struggle to survive is all-consuming, family loyalty trumps community.
 
Clashes between Zulu customs and contemporary values further erode cultural ties and divide families. A scholarship student, Khosi loves science, but getting to school means dodging gangs and rapists hunting AIDS-free virgins. After a witch curses Khosi’s family and Mama falls ill, Khosi and Gogo seek aid from a traditional Zulu healer, which Mama dismisses as superstition while fear and poverty keep her from accessing modern medicine. As stresses mount, Khosi’s ancestors speak, offering her guidance. Supported by them, her family and classmate Little Man, Khosi vows to create a better future by synthesizing old and new ways, yet the obstacles she faces—some inherited, others newly acquired—are staggering. A compassionate and moving window on a harsh world. (glossary of Zulu words) /(Paranormal fiction. 12 & up).
For a closer look at Jessica’s writing process, read the interview with Jessica that we ran last year at The Fertile Source as well as an earlier interview hosted at Feral Mom, Feral Writer about her tri-part focus at that particular time as press founder, editor and author of The Confessional.
Congratulations, Jess. I’m so proud to work with you.

Jessica with Nesta (five months)

Father Witness, Birth vs. God: An Interview with Poet Jim Richards

Poet Jim Richards

Jim Richards

An extreme state of ambivalence towards pregnancy is explored in “Mother of Three.” One of the things I most enjoyed about these three poems is the fearlessness with which God and birth are broached and prodded—here, what it means to bring a fourth child into a home overflowing with three (and praying for some kind of redemption despite adversity). What happens for you during the process of writing poems like these? Any surprises in process or line of questioning/reasoning?

My wife, Debbie, describes deciding to get pregnant like deciding to have the stomach flu for nine months. Her “morning” sickness occurs around the clock and throughout her pregnancy. Food becomes revolting. Things as simple as answering the phone make her vomit. Once, after a particularly difficult day of pregnancy, I came into the bathroom when she had just finished vomiting. I put my hand on her back and asked her, “What can I do to help?” Her reply was, “Just go away” then she spit into the toilet.

What can a husband do in this situation? Nothing, was the answer. My suffering was to watch my wife suffer. In the poem, I conflate this experience with that of the God of the New Testament as he watches his son suffer death by crucifixion. Christ claimed that he died to bring life. In a way, so do women when they “lay down their lives” for their children. That’s the paradox I wanted to explore in the poem: the joy that comes through sorrow as it pertains to child bearing, at a moment when sorrow is tipping the scale.

Similarly, in “On Your Birthday,” there’s an honest look at patterns of communication in a relationship. Though hard in some ways, there’s also a tenderness that comes across.
I see you in a chair, your faced washed / With the sorrow of post-partum, wanting to glow / In the eyes of the newborn in your arms, / And wondering how. How do you choose which moments to depict in a poem? Other inspiring poems about relationship dynamics that you’ve encountered in your reading history?

These poems are unusually autobiographical and sincere for me, including “On Your Birthday.” The occasion and the memory you quote here are actual. While Debbie was rocking our first baby, from the other room I heard her whisper to the child, “Do you think I’m beautiful?” This helped me understand a measure of what she was feeling. I try to identify (or sometimes invent) moments like these that are common yet overlooked, and then try to represent them honestly. Frost’s “Home Burial,” Kinnell’s “After Making Love We Hear Footsteps,” Rich’s “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers,” Swenson’s “Feel Me to Do Right,” and Li-Young Lee’s Rose are models for me.

Can you talk about the process of writing, “Poem for a New Father?” Again, I’m struck by the way you map out the psychological territory a new father might find himself crossing when his wife gives birth: “A predator circles, patient as death.” Can you talk to us about that line, or others in the poem?

Again autobiographical, this poem was written for my brother after his first daughter, Grace, was born. It explores the question, “What might a man go through when his wife goes through childbirth?” For me, the experience is animalistic: the bearing down, the pushing, breathing, grunting; the pain and screaming; the blood and fluids; the indifference of the doctors and nurses for whom the ritual has become routine. The line you refer to tries to create this impression with an image of an animal bearing young in the wild while a predator watches. At any moment, mother or newborn may die. It’s that kind of emotional intensity I felt as I witnessed the birth of my children. I try to capture it in the poem as a way of empathizing with my brother.

How does your faith, and questions around it, enter your poetry?

My faith is so much a part of who I am I don’t know if I can answer this question with any real insight or objectivity. I was raised in a religious home by parents who were raised in religious homes, and so on throughout my ancestry. Quite honestly, I don’t think I’m capable of truly understanding what it’s like to live, think, or write without a perspective of faith. I believe in God and life after death and this influences every aspect of my life, including writing. It often inhibits my writing and makes me insecure because I worry that many readers may see me as naïve or old fashioned, and I’m probably both.

I struggle with the question: How can I believe and yet write in a way that will interest those who don’t believe? I don’t want to limit my audience to those who share my faith, but am I capable of writing poems of interest to those who don’t? I suppose many writers deal with this kind of struggle—how to reach beyond their own experience or identity to a wider world.

When did you start writing poetry? Any mentors you wish to discuss?

When I was in college on a study abroad in London my roommate asked if I wanted to go and hear Seamus Heaney give a reading. I had no idea who he was and passed on the invitation. Later that year I came across Heaney’s “Digging” in an anthology and loved it, especially its sound and imagery. Until that moment, it had never occurred to me that there was such a thing as a living poet. The next semester I registered for a senior seminar in contemporary poetry, and I’ve been trying to write poetry ever since. My poet-teachers have been my mentors: Lance Larsen, Susan E. Howe, Lesli Norris, Ed Hirsch, Adam Zagajewski, Mark Doty, Marie Howe. Ten years after passing on the invitation to hear Heaney, I heard him read “Digging” in Houston. Redemption at last.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve recently completed a novel about a little boy whose mother loses a baby and has a nervous breakdown. The little boy believes the mother has literally lost the baby and is determined to find it as that seems to be the solution to his family’s woes. He searches for the baby wherever he goes.

How did you come to lead student tours in Mexico? Anything writing related to that tour? Are you able to write on such trips at all?

The university needed a new person to lead the tour, they asked me, and I said yes. We take about thirty-six students on the tour and travel through some of the world’s most beautiful and mysterious places. I teach a creative writing class in conjunction with the tour and the students write poems, stories, and essays related to their experiences. The demands and details of the travel plans keep me from getting much writing done, but I do keep a daily record. And a bird list—I saw a russet-crowned mot mot and boat-billed flycatcher today!

Jim Richards completed a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston and now teaches at Brigham Young University-Idaho in the Upper-Snake River Valley. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Texas Review, Literature and Belief, Poet Lore, and Contemporary American Voices. An avid runner, he writes about his progress toward completing fifty marathons in fifty states at 50before50.blogspot.com

Jim Richards: Mother of Three, On Your Birthday, and Poem for a New Father

Mother of Three

And pregnant. Two pink lines
on the indicator stick you balanced
on the edge of the sink—one line

for happiness, one for hell—tip
when I touch them, and fall.
This means: you, mornings, evenings,

bent on the bathroom floor,
prayer spewing from your mouth
while three believers cry to you their god

their god: why have you forsaken us?
This means: you curled in bed, cut off
from the unlucky who have never never

never made life like you make it.
This means: I want to end it all
with an image of redemption: new heart,

new body, new face. But I know,
you know, we know just what this means:
our mouths cannot make the words.

On Your Birthday

Today is your birthday, and I’ve done nothing
In preparation to celebrate that moment
Twenty-eight years ago when you came
Through wet pain and warm darkness
Into light, into the first breath of a life
That would eventually and thankfully merge
With mine own. I’m a fool to think a few lines
Written an hour before we meet for lunch
Could make up for what I have failed to do.
Still I write, not knowing why, exactly;
Perhaps because the words I try to find
Are easier to find when I imagine your face
And bring you here beside me for a moment.
You’re sweet, and will forgive me, I know;
It is the way your birthdays have always been,
Swallowed up in the care of home and children.
I see you in a chair, your faced washed
With the sorrow of post-partum, wanting to glow
In the eyes of the newborn in your arms,
And wondering how. I see you kneeling
At the bedside in the dark hours of the morning,
Your prayers drowned out by the infant’s wail.
I see you with a needle in your leg, hours
And hours on the bed, and the burning foreshadow
Of scars growing across your body. I see you.
You are here with me now, for a moment
and I am supposed to say happy birthday.
In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.
Happy birthday, my Love, in sorrow.

Poem for a New Father

Something with the water breaks
inside a man. Did you feel it?
A fresh outpouring, a clarity
rising through bedrock, swelling
through roots and soil, spilling
into the sun. Silent and painless

at first. Then it grows. Did you feel it?
Something with muscles aches
inside a man—contractions
make marriage more animal.
Sweet beast, your life-mate
drops her young in darkness

and a predator circles as patient
as death. Not time, not hours
can tell what fear it makes
for a man to be helpless against
his foe. Two lives that he loves
sink deep into a place where he

can never go. Brother, beast,
I was with you, when your loves
went down, when you were left
alone. I know how much it takes
to hold a hand that’s letting go.
But water, blood, and spirit

come, dust makes a living soul,
and soon it is grace you’re holding
in your hands, a face you know
you’ve never known. It is then,
just then, that something wakes

inside a man, did you feel it?

Jim Richards completed a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston and now teaches at Brigham Young University-Idaho in the Upper-Snake River Valley. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Texas Review, Literature and Belief, Poet Lore, and Contemporary American Voices. An avid runner, he writes about his progress toward completing fifty marathons in fifty states at 50before50.blogspot.com.

Read our interview with Jim Richards conducted by Tania Pryputniewicz, Father Witness: Birth vs. God, an Interview with poet Jim Richards.

 

Bought a Pack of Cigarettes Today

a poem by Nicelle Davis

At this distance, street lamps are reduced to strands of Christmas

lights strung between windows

where televisions are erupting like fireworks from the eyeholes of

track homes. A lit cigarette reflects

as a birthday candle off the surface of my windshield. Fighter jets

pass as the slowest moving stars-their

engines low moans-loud as breath in my ear. A semi-truck passes

as a streak of light chasing flight. Beneath me, red

ants are carrying the body of a black ant to their underground city.

If  I didn’t know hunger, I would think they were leading a funeral

 

procession-if I didn’t know limitation-I would think the world

was in celebration of loss.  It is

 

cold. Tonight. Please. Let me clarify.

 

I’m in an empty lot-next to a suburban neighborhood-alone

leaving you-

that is-three vacancies placed next to a thousand homes. When

 

I say

 

“a” cigarette, I mean “mine.”       When I say “my”

windshield, I mean “the car’s.”

There is distinction in ownership.

 

Guilt belongs to me. You gave me HPV, but I took it willingly-

wanting to believe in the religious alchemy of becoming one

flesh-put on cancer like relief. Impossible. Love. For me. There are

places in the sky untouched by shine. And this is what I focus on.

But must search for these rare absences between structures made

for together. Looking for dark

 

I catch sight of a couple making love in an upstairs window. The wind

is a torrent; I am wet from its intangible hands on my thighs. We are

 

done with each other. I recognize. I drove this far out of town to hide

from our son that sometimes I choose cigarettes over tofu and sit-ups.

 

I understand my mother better at moments like these-know how she

could drag the body of a deer under her car for miles, because she had to

get away and needed all her available concentration to obey the directives

of traffic signals.

 

Stop. Go. Slow.

 

I imagine the naked man in the window is being given direction. I have

nowhere to go. Tonight is your turn with our family. Ours is a separate

matter. You tell me I’m leaving too fast. I say,

I can’t think right with the pain of my own teeth at my hands. I need to

 

stop eating cancer-

need to read books about spiders saving pigs to my son-

need to stop dragging a corpse every time I search for

a place to be. Quiet night. Birds

 

are sleeping in their twig cages built from the down of other birds. Harvested

from bones. Their chicks blanketed in another’s insulation. I long for

 

the friendship of morning, to see its red currents seeping through my closed

eyes. To see myself divide. To have my shadow self-

proportioned as a little girl with giant arms reaching for warmth. Again. I wish

 

to make comrades of variance. Light and shadow never stop touching. Again.

I flip a lucky. Spit the yoke of mucus. Wonder if this leaving will ever end.

 

 Nicelle Davis lives in Southern California with her son J.J. Her poems are forthcoming in, The New York Quarterly, PANK, Two Review, and others. She’d like to acknowledge her poetry family at the University of California, Riverside and Antelope Valley Community College. She runs a free online poetry workshop at: http://nicelledavis.wordpress.com/.
Check out Poetry Editor Tania Pryputniewicz’s interview with Nicelle Davis on She Writes as well as earlier work we ran by Nicelle, From What I Understand About Quilting on ectopic pregnancy.

 
 
 

 

The Pig Door by Johnny Townsend

“The Pig Door” tells the story of a Morman man who has just found the son he fathered through artificial insemination. Please comment here.




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