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May 29, 2013 | Poetry

3 Poems

Katharine Rauk

3 Poems photo

 

A Preamble to an Explanation of You

It was like I worked in a Popsicle factory
but had never tasted the color red.
I walked the dry tongue of the road
as crickets scritched scritched scitched
little tin ladders up from the ditches at night
but never once did I climb them to the moon.
For the moon was just another stone to kick,
and I was a graveyard shift without the machinery
of the stars. My heart was a vacant elevator
opening and shutting uselessly on each floor,
my heart couldn’t make a dime panhandling under a bridge,
my heart was January’s sedan without all four doors.
Doubt rode me bareback across the edge of small towns
while postage stamps in my pocket cried out to be kissed.
The conveyer belts of the ocean never carried me away,
I never swam through clouds of krill.
The rain ate my mouth like a wristwatch eats time
and my neck was so thin I could hardly cough up words,
so they collected like spiders beneath the bed.
Newspaper ink would be brighter than the song
their frail legs plucked upon the seven strings of air.
I never bought oranges just to see clean mist spray
when I broke open their skins.
I never had it coat my fingers and palms
as if I had crawled many miles
through dust fine as powdered sugar
on my hands and knees. I wasn’t dust.
I wasn’t the scent of dust kicked up by horses’ hooves.
I wasn’t the shape of dust held in the Sahara’s bare mouth.
I wasn’t even the voice of dust
as it lingered over footprints you might have once made. 

 

Instructions on How to Open a Gift That May or May Not Be a Sausage

Consider the mustard seed, which as the ancients knew makes an excellent condiment for sausage. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Meat, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a tiny mustard seed in the field which will become a tree so large that flying pigs may lodge in its branches. But as the scholars point out, the mustard plant is actually a noxious weed, a subversive gift that is difficult to ungive. Like the gift of love, which once opened can’t ever be returned to its package, no matter what your ex-husband says. I don’t mean for better or for wurst and all that. Did you know the word wurst originates in the Latin vertere, or to turn? A frankfurter, once eaten, becomes part of your body, years later curling out from the very roots of your hair. He liked yours windblown, or at least that’s what he always said. A sausage is the size of a you-know-what, but a mustard seed is the size of what you know.

 

Meet Me Between

the hymnal’s ragged pages and the mouth
of the song, beside the scratches of the dark

green trees. Under the eaves of the question

mark hastened with rain, inside the heather
lit with bees. In the Theater of Misplaced Postcards

tucked between the black velvet seats,

in a jujube-flavored morning
on the veranda of a wind-scrubbed beach.

Before the tide comes in without the moon,

before the moon was even born, beyond
the spigot of the sea and whoever turned it on.
 

image: Andromeda Veach


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