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August 13, 2013 Poetry

Two Poems

Renée Ashley

Two Poems photo


Near The Lagoon

       after a painting by Jasper Johns

Once my friend stepped out from the top of a ladder she simply walked into air and said it was that instant that fraction-of-a-moment in which she began her descent that her body understood it was a body and came undone For weeks I thought only of this We are a body We will come undone A table of snow and a table of sorrow A tea that smells of a house burned down Two decades past I read that in Wallington a herald angel was hit by a truck and another was seen blowing down a southerly street There had been a storm The wind had been fierce For twenty years I’ve imagined them risen and scurrying on the air And if insurance is the name of god then god was present in the aftermath Not the null set I’d imagined all my life And it does not stop there Last Tuesday I heard on TV that the Blessed Mother appeared in a tree in West New York A day after that  in some place I don’t know the name of a plaster Virgin is said to have bled from a wound at her forehead Call the medics and the CSI Open all your doors! Open every window! Let insurance blow through We are gathered my friends to witness imaginary fences We are assembled to honor what is hiding inside the invisible We are a finger’s width away We are not protagonist material We are too encumbered Gravity is some other god And we are not in the lagoon can never be in the lagoon But some I have heard say we are near



It Is As Though We Are Bequeathed The Body: A Poetics

The smaller of the waters seems dull and green It does not move When something fist-sized at the water’s edge leaps in there is no spray no fly-back just the round drop! of displacement and the noiseless surface closing up again Beside the water is the meadow fresh grass beaded by a brighter water that—depending on the hour—will either singe or sustain and faintly pulses beneath the light that descends from a sky so blue you might think it were an eye The horrible eye of god Or your father’s eye or the eye of the mother whose covetous lids would close over you whose visions will--no doubt--ride you—beast on beast--until you’re free to close—or have closed for you—your own lightless eyes for that last last time We deliver the body to this meadow We stack the stuff we know we know: corrugated sheets of tin the crates of white coral obsidian  the souvenir of razor wire port wine the four perfect rectangular pupils of the white-as-talcum two-headed goat the slates the neon palm tree sign from the old Oasis Bar near the ball bearing factory the vacuum hose the one long line of perfect daffodils their primary bursts a layer of timothy duck feather and dung  the restaurant’s silver--all fool’s silver and fish forks—and bits of the body between And then light a match This is how we give the body passage The little fire against the dusk The smoke there The what-it-takes away The what-is-left-behind


image: Caleb Curtiss