Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sunday Poem

for Blake Smith

I can see now that I was once quite feral.
Getting older was my education in becoming civilized.

Also, being married to you. That was the decade
of cleaning our things in the nude so as not to ruin

our clothes with all that bleach. We couldn’t replace
anything. When anything broke, it was broken. We were

broke. I bought you a bullwhip and some hot sauce
and some tiny wooden armadillos and some tropical fish

magnets that wiggled when you opened and closed
the door to the fridge. You bought me a space heater.

Like Peter Q’s Mrs. Bailey, I like to think “I had a strong
sense of what my position was and what was proper.” 
On two occasions, I shit myself: once when sick and
once when aroused. And here I’m thinking of Tess— 
not the cat we sat, but the fictional girl
hanging from the fictional tree. I appreciated it

when you reminded me how easily I can become
bored. It’s true. I do need a challenge.

A teenager is like a scarlet runner bean; it will wind
round whatever trellis you do, or don’t, provide.

Sometimes it is satisfying to make a howling sound
that comes straight from the diaphragm. You know

what the diaphragm is? Ennui. The educated say
ennui. Your father is a machinist—I know what

he does, in theory—and you can build a train wreck,
though why anyone would want to build a train

wreck is unclear to most. I get it. Baby, we’re
so private. And here I’m thinking of my grand-

mother in assisted living in Regina. Her TV
so quiet as to be imperceptible. The ghost

in her china. You are the first person I ever heard
say the word hubris. Your parents are social

democrats, your mother gave me Upton Sinclair’s,
The Jungle, and then I knew what Howlin’

Wolf meant by The Killing Floor. You took me
for sushi. I bought a plastic harmonica

in the shape of an ear of corn. The first time
you licked my pussy, I was sure; the first time

you kissed my mouth, I wasn’t. We did
everything backwards. You didn’t seem to mind.

Often I would come home from my coffee
shop job and just sob. After so much violence,

it has become radical to be a soft critic, to write
poems about horses. I bought some glow-in-the-dark

zombie finger puppets and a plastic paparazzi play set
and an antique marionette in the shape of an ostrich

called My Favorite Pet. I hoped not to suffer from
what, in certain circles, is referred to as a “wet brain.”

From The Hottest Summer in Recorded History (Nightwood, 2013) by Elizabeth Bachinsky.

(Illustration by Jon Krause.)

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