Waking, I saw that by mistake in the night I had knocked my lower leg off.
There it lay on the dusty floor by the bedroom wall
like a pale, Caucasian ham.
How could this have happened?
Had I had an intense dream,
knocked it too hard against the wooden foot of the bed
breaking ligaments so that it fell with a thump on the floor
while I slept?
There was dried blood there,
partly wiped up, as if by me in my sleep.
This was significant.
Wearing a makeshift prosthesis,
I picked up and carried the severed appendage
asking around—had anyone heard anything?
No one had, or was overly concerned.
It would have to have this seen to.
I knew it was important to have all the parts.
That is all I remember, because I must have fainted.
And when I woke my leg was better,
though it clicks now when I walk.
Monthly Archives: April 2019
After the poetry workshop wound down, I took courage and invited the instructor for a conversation on our next break. He seemed very approachable, and had, in fact, glanced over my way several times from his position at the head of the table. I was gratified when he agreed gladly to join me at the nearby Obfuscations Café.
“Words can be so powerful and evocative,” he explained over tea. “Take undergarments, for example. His glance slid to the brown bra strap that I felt had slipped away from the cover of my T-shirt. “That is clear, explicit. But it is a mere label. One may also use the term ‘lingerie,’ implying a desire to linger, and something exotic or foreign. As for color” (his yes drifted left again) “one could say ‘brown,’ the unadorned, middle-of the road term, or”, his eyebrows lifted, “‘chocolate.’ I do love chocolate.” He looked directly into my eyes as he reached for his spoon and fetched a taste of syrup-covered brownie to his lips.
I thought about this, but it did not make sense. Words may be accurate or inaccurate, as well as more or less precise. Should we not, in attempting to communicate, aim for both accuracy and precision, agreeing on standards for these whenever possible? Allowing for etymological evolution, and cultural diffusion, as well as influences from the physical environment, language is still about statements: past, present, future, declarative, interrogative, imperative, observation, inference, opinion. Even considering context, there are truthful and untruthful statements, and surely the same would be true in poetry.
I told him this.
He carefully placed his spoon on a napkin. An oval dampness spread outward through the microscopic white fibers. He picked the spoon it up again, spooned honey into his tea, and his eyes lost their focus, before returning to mine. “What I mean is, well, for example, which statement do you take to be true: one, you are a new female acquaintance from a writers’ workshop, about my age, widow of one year (as you told me), about 5’6”, brunette, dressed in green and brown. Or, two, you are a fascinating, desirable woman with a heartbeat I sense across the room, reaching out for companionship, pulsing intelligence and feeling that intrigues, and with an aroma of cherries wafting out on the warmth of her breath”?
I considered the two options, then answered, “You are comparing two different types of language there. The empirically observable on the one hand, and on the other, words intended to communicate a desired relational outcome. One, both, or even neither may be considered true—it all depends on one’s criteria and assumptions, which we have not yet established.”
He sat back a little (he’d been learning forward, hands somewhat extended on the table, and his cheeks looked rather warm, his eyes bright). He took several uneven breaths. Perhaps he was understanding my point? But he looked confused. I remembered that men can be on a different wavelength when it comes to communication, sometimes having difficulty with subtle ideas.
I decided to shift to something else, to ask about something he’d mentioned in his workshop. “I would like your thoughts on poetic technique, if you don’t mind, specifically the use of rhythm,” I said.
He adjusted his chair with a sudden scrape against the concrete floor and a sharp intake of breath. “Rhythm?” he repeated, looking surprised, and even more alert. “I…would love to show you what I know about that. In fact, since I’m staying just above (They gave me a fireplace!), why don’t we continue this in my suite?”
“Your room? But I have half a cup of tea still, and most of my muffin, and you haven’t yet given me satisfaction on either subject we’ve broached.”
“Satisfaction?!” he squeaked, then ran his tongue over his lips, and said something under his breath. “Can’t get…”?. Then, aloud, “I really would like to… discuss this further, so, shall I say, my place in fifteen?” He gulped the last of his passionfruit tea, nodded at me, somewhat distractedly, set his card with a room number scrawled on the back, looked at me dazedly, and walked quickly back to the lodge.
I was confused, to say the least. Celebrated man of words that he was, he obviously hadn’t understood a thing I’d said, nor expressed himself clearly at all. Poetry really was not my thing, I decided. Non-overlapping spheres of understanding and all. I pondered the complexities of verbal communication as I finished my English Afternoon tea.
Breaking some eggs
As if he wanted to know
better than just to hear me
call it out over the sound of the
dryer, that comfortable, clean
electric sound. But I answered
fairly loudly, but only just over the
general din: “No, I didn’t make it with
ham. I don’t eat ham anymore;
I didn’t want to make two, and
jam them both in that small pan.
Knock it off, will you, with the
lame questions? You said you were
making something for yourself.
Not about food, is it, anyway?
Out with it. What do you mean?
Play this game if you want, but
questions like that will get you nothing.
Reactions is all you want.”
Stirring the eggs, I glared at the
tile, splattered with months of
ugly grease. I poured the mixture
very slowly into the pan.
Why did everything
X- out the warmth?
Years of this, and I was finally, completely
Salt and lemon
arpeggios from the living room
and the fireplace fan runs.
My love is ill, and I am all heaviness
“One, two, three,” says the piano teacher.
“These notes come in triplets.”
Three notes, three months,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
I hope I’m in the right place this time.
Why is she looking at me? Is it my top? Hair?
God, where will I sit? What if I take someone’s place?
He’s too hot to sit by. He’s a nerd, but I hope he’s not a creep.
As long as I can stay far away from that weird dude from the Fair who kept staring at me.
I can’t get a read on the teacher. Looks boring. Sounds ditsy.
I’m going to be so lost in this class—it’s so dumb that I have to be here.
I so need to check my phone, but I have to see if they’re uptight here.
Shit—I’m sweating—why is the heat on, and can’t there be any windows?
At least the smell of that guy will cover mine—phew!
Did she say something to me? A question? What?
Oh, thanks. This text weighs a ton!
Now stop looking at me, just look away, will you?
I’m just going to write in my notebook. Something, anything.
I have no idea what’s going on.
A line of sixteen dots of light across the room from a half-raised window blind
Four crispy fish sticks with a dollop of mayonnaise, ketchup and sauerkraut
A row of fat binders on a high shelf, containing years of study notes
The soft roll of a patio door opening, and rain on thickening turf
A black dog expectantly angled below salmon in the pan.
A faraway train carrying a heavy, important load
A pool of yellow light on a quilted table runner
A spider descending along a green curtain
Three interruptions by a wondering child
Soft dark, as I move through, familiar
Unaccountable silence in my ears
A faded cotton pillowcase
Journal on the stand
Underwhere, Deer Luvs?
Oar and oar the splashing came
and drenched my spatial loves
they wepped and lepped and cride four me
to know releaf fr’above.
The waves were hi and kohled and dark
end awl were pail and whaling
till won bye won, the leeks were sprung
and downwords all were saling.
Goodbuy, fare deers
Prey cry no more,
End udder finial prayers
Life is crewel,
Sci for not
Desend thoughs long, lassed stares