“Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.” G. Washington
How to build a disagreement, a dispute, a difference
of opinions grown huge, like that famous goldfish (how
famous? Well, so famous, you already know how famous),
the goldfish so gold, so sad, so hungry that even chow
(disgusting stuff), even crumbs of fish food could make it
glow and grow until it was the greatest goldfish ever
seen. You know how great? As great as a Great White!
The shark, of course, because, we know things, clever,
you know, and a fish is a fish, a shark is a fish, but
a whale is not a fish, even though that goldfish was almost
as big as a whale. Almost, not quite. Still, for just
a goldfish, it was too big. Huge! It could really boast
of its bigness (like a whale!), but for a fish, that’s too dense,
too big. Makes no sense. How to build a story that makes no sense?
“When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.” G. Washington
During Mass, we were supposed to sit quietly,
tidy, with scabbed knees tight together, and feet flat.
We sang, “Hail, Holy Queen” & “Immaculate Mary”
often, because nuns liked them, and “Magnificat.”
One day, I stood instead outside, shuffling my feet,
doors closed (I’d be in trouble if I went on through).
I wore the uniform (stiff plaid skirt with box pleats,
white Peter Pan collar, and black Mary Janes, too),
but I’d forgotten my lace mantilla, and women
had to have their hair covered. Sister Mary came
looking, frowning when she found me, unforgiven.
“You forgot again? Don’t you have something else? Shame!”
She took my schoolbag, rummaged. Found tissues, not lace.
Bent a straight pin to hold the ugly thing in place.
Blasting music down the highway,
staring at lights that open, close,
and open, cascading rainbows
across midnight blue sky. The day
is full of invisible stars,
full of noise, of evil and good.
We need both, don’t you think? We should
keep walking, keep driving the car
down roads we aren’t sure of, going
sometimes home (and thanks for the ride)
but sometimes somewhere we can glide
into a mystery, showing
for the first time the stars that spark
from us when we are what goes dark.
She is a butterfly. Her wings — red, orange, gold silk.
They flutter. She stutters. Ribbons stretch behind her
parsing her into quadrants, time zones, and their ilk.
Wind gusts silk strips into arcs & days, each a blur
drifting into see-you-laters and lullabies,
slipping through time like light dissolving into crumbs.
She was a butterfly, brown against the blue skies
with eyes that open to day, and close when night comes.
Her time is out of line with mine, or mine with hers,
and when we sing our wings don’t touch, but stretch, our tones
shifting scale from perfect to proper. She prefers
the wonders that silence shows — sidereal koans.
Time means nothing, never will again. She will be
a butterfly, out of step and waiting for we.
We take pride in the cleanliness of our gut lining,
the clear prep, the willingness to guzzle GoLytely;
modify the diet days in advance (no whining
allowed), chill Gatorade, hog the bathroom forthrightly.
When colon cancer runs in the family, “get tough”
is what’s expected. It’s not the prep that’s my problem.
The first time, that was all I worried about. Enough
to take the doctor’s “good prep” as my good girl emblem.
I remembered waking up during, tried to forget
the date-rape drug distortions and Dali-esque faces,
curses, crude comments, being sticky with a cold sweat.
For years it worked. They ignored me, then I them. Aces,
until it was time to schedule the next. That was when
the nightmares began, leaking through the cracks opened then.
NOTE: Don’t be scared off from getting your recommended and needed colonoscopy by my sad story of one bad experience. I’m not. I go back and get them regularly, and do what’s needed. For me, that means getting docs to support me and advocate for my having them without sedation. For other folk it means asking for them with complete sedation. For most folk, the prep is the part they dislike most, and for most folk the conscious sedation works just fine. The colonoscopy experience described in this poem is not typical.
It began with Fritos, Cheetos, something
like that. It began with a helium
balloon in the shape of a dance, floating
barely above grass, the dangling string numb.
It began with a girl who thought she was
an egg. Her cracked shell was invisible,
fractured edges shivering just because
they flinched whenever touched. “Nibble, nibble,
little mouse, who’s that nibbling at my house?”
It began with, “How are you?” So simply.
It began, “Who’s that nibbling at my blouse?”
It began with a promise. And a lie.
“No one should ever be hurt like you were,”
he said. Eyes wide, she shivered her sleek fur.
Old blankets spread over summer grasses.
Stems poke through, prickling bare legs. I tuck
my knees up in my arms, smudge my glasses,
clean them on the blanket. Waiting for Puck
and Oberon, I sing along with lute
and flute, “a heigh-ho, the wind and the rain.”
Clouds skid overhead, thicken. Pigeons hoot,
mosquitoes buzz. Dusk falls. A homely swain
enters stage-right, sweating in puffed velvets
patched and stained, but I pretend not, enthralled
with lords, and soldiers clanking in tin helmets,
centuries old silliness of loves walled
away from each other, donkey and dame.
I’m wrapped in dreams, crickets’ chirp, fireflies’ flame.