Winter 2008

Table of Contents - Vol. IV, No. 4


Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

Carolyn Srygley-Moore


Forced to Learn how to Fly

Having abandoned myself to first eddies of morning light,
one arm thrown over my eyes,
I tread the fluid pastels of city traffic,
its wheels of nothingness whetted to blades,
& wake in a mass of hawk feathers, smelling of the fat river
by which I was raised. I am defined by this moment,
as I am defined by the coiling of smoke & of housefly;
by the lines of the leaf, splayed like the crow’s feet of an indigent’s eyes.
Somehow I see, not myself, but the absence of myself,
empty mirrors falling like signs from the trees
amidst the powers of water, the precision of modern war.
The merchant of ice cream passes, we flag him down like a taxi,
& sugar throbs like blasphemy through the veins where blood once was.
Suddenly I remember forgetting to be afraid of my father,
as one must be afraid of anyone else: love’s ending
is either a kind of ellipsis or a drop off sheer cliffrock.

I’ve always had the need to answer, call out, anonymously,
I know, I don’t know… The need to watch the concert pianist’s chords
walk offstage like marionettes, walk into the upturned hands
of an audience grown suddenly un-deaf by seduction.
& I remember to be afraid, of you, as I walk the blue woodlands
like a doe crashing through sunlit puddles of underbrush,
reading the sky to myself like a language
where seasons do not exist, only summer, dear summer…
Who is it, who tried to kill me first, those many years back,
push me from the houseboat’s stern, the roof chimney, the sandbar
where the blue crane stood like the wardrobe’s exit…
Kill me, that I was forced to learn how to fly, how to swim?
I thus wake in a mass of hawk feathers, smelling afresh of the river,
blue as the rings of Stonehenge when wet from the sudden rain –
mirrors fall from the trees
& then I remember, to be afraid.


Autumn’s Approach

The young girl in the picture is betrayed by her old, old eyes,
pupils whispering of what others have witnessed –
executions in the square, geese & gods shot down –
a gift & a curse, like the ability for flight. & somebody
has stolen the doors in broad daylight, lifted them
from the hinges like views from a window, soundlessly.
I think she is me.

Yet I was given a jar of laughter, not tears,
blades of humor skinning the bells of stones
as the night, since I recall, played tricks on my ears.
I remember that old man on the bus, on the one-way trip
to the revolution, a man who thought he was sleeping
that eternal sleep that is naught but dream –
he took the girl’s feet in his calloused hands, told her
stories – she leaned back into luck’s emptiness,
she believed. I think she is me…

Today, autumn approaches, I hear it,
its snowdrop sky browning around the edges,
burying the water-pipe hallucinations of summer
like anchors; red dye courses like riotous blood
through deep gutters where children
run popsicle sticks like kites. Slowly, surely,
everyone & everything is abandoned by beauty
as by some godhead,
as we clutch the parchments that prove we exist.

I am running out of tomorrows, of yesterdays.
Like a lover autumn leaves me even as she approaches,
her footsteps descend the backstairs like fists
barely clamping the air.
Then again, I can
make the decision to believe, even if it won’t last
longer than snowflakes on the hot curl of the tongue;
faith tells me, this is summer approaching, not autumn…
& the disoriented cardinal in the brush
is virgin red, confused by the play of moonlight
on the just-paved avenue of fate - or is that sun’s ceres
resting on the stairwell like a lost harmonica, rasping
the inhale of the addict, the lover, the runaway;
I think they are me.



Once wounded, unable to love
I do not recognize the woman facing me from the looking glass,
wholly capable of loving as she is – the fresh water-lilies clutched in her hand
are history’s assassins. & monsters stir in a back shed
with broken mountain bicycles & infant car seats, spider trails
waking the dust of entire trees felled from windstorms,
crashing the door down.
I have learned to keep my hands busy
mounding oranges with grapes in wooden bowls, darning
moments like starlight’s yarn. I ask my lover, this time, take me
with you
, down to the bankrupt boathouse, our bodies, reborn, will
whisper against the unshorn wind, our bones changed to water
as we stare-down the morphing of our lavender shadows,
name them, make them real.
I see my face as for the first time
reflected in the whites of his eyes, a white tinged with blue,
& I greet him at the place where he lost himself as one loses
a thumbnail, or a wandering dog. Our flesh whispers against the silk
sheets of desire, it speaks the intolerable weightlessness of hope
& desire; white birds scatter to the sky from the skin
of my first love, a dirty petal.
Optimism or destiny, these
are the choices, blue handprints in the dust of possibilities. Grit
factory, poison of boiled scorpion thorns – what makes us bleed,
bleed, as the aging choke on their metamorphoses, a beauty
stunning as the vermillion sun ascends, perhaps for the last
time. This could be the world’s first light, unearthing the ghetto’s
meiotic pits, divine eye sockets: leave the sleeping ghosts alone,
they whisper: leave the sleeping be.


© Carolyn Srygley-Moore



Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

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