Wednesday, July 02, 2008

3 Poems

What is with the spate of new poems all of a sudden? Gosh, you pray for a trickle and it becomes an ocean...


Cartography

She crosses out borders
And draws new ones: white lines
Across the jade green approximations
Of fields and mountains.

Here is where she first saw snow,
And here, where the river meets the road,
Is where she first caught a salmon
Beribboned in red, pulsing with life.

Her eyes move across the surface,
Her nose against the mountain
Where she once wore a white dress, garlanded
Barefoot, dancing around a spring.

And here, she points
Her fingers marking the edge
Of the parchment, of the world –
Here is where she first made love

And conquered the earth.


Burka

You can be naked underneath
On a hot July day
And no one will notice.

Or you can walk inside a supermarket
Flip a finger to the cashier
Who refused to give a refund
For a spoiled head of lettuce.

Everything is easier when invisible.
After all, no one will shake hands
With a pillar of cloth.

You remember Lot’s wife
And wonder if she also saw the world
Crumbling before her eyes
As she turned into a statue of salt.

You wait for the hot desert wind
To blow you away.


The Last Queen

"Oh Susan," said Jill, "She's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipsticks and invitations. She was always a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up."

- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle, CS Lewis

They turned her back because of stockings
And nylons, lipstick that made her thin lips
Look plumper, softer, strawberry-red
Ready to be plucked
By the next pair of hands.

But nobody remembers how it feels
To be left behind –
I suppose heaven becomes a place
Where you discard memories, shadows,
Family members that mourn your passing.

It’s easier, really, to be a High King
Than to be the girl that goes down to the station
In the middle of the night, when the monsters
Come out, and see the red patterns on the wall,
And wonder if that was your brother

Crumpled underneath the railway. After all,
She was the one who knew everything:
The scrap of a ribbon from her sister’s head,
The sharp twang of an arrow, the soft lion’s mane,
The last, long queue going back to the surface
Where everything is dark and dead and cold.

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