After Jean Dubuffet’s “Corps de Dame”
Then, I thought of the second time I almost died, the doctor who saved my sunken toe from its final tag. I wonder how my father is coping, a beer in one hand & an appointment in another. Years ago he smoked pot with a friend & laughed irrepressibly at a rig stuck beneath a low bridge. I can’t help my father; my mother says a doctor wants to remove her ovaries, both of them, she doesn’t need them anymore, & my mother, she wants the doctors to pull my father’s prostate clear from his groin, what does he need it for. A cat’s howl, a harness of pain, will carry me far into the night, and nothing, not the boy rushing towards me, not the fifty-seven stars limpid in the sky, not the single cigarette pack tilled into the dirt, nothing will attack me more than the unbridled loneliness of that cat. I wish the night will end, complicit & helpless. I can’t help but think of my dear, dead friend, leaking chemicals while alive, naming himself Radiation Man, amused & pissing green. No one can offer me solace. Nights I trim shrubs until they are uniform, collect the falling leaves in a slip of paper, damp from no, not the earth’s tears, but the thing itself, the night fog. I am alone and long for the world to capsize, to drain into the lawn of me, the way sugar water drips into veins, placebo, platonic. Then, I’ll yearn for everything. For nothing.
After Paul Klee’s “Flower Myth”
Fireflies alight in trees/through song, frogs’ tangential night calls/ & the lightning quiets the lawn/rain to kiss your skin ** She lets the scorpion crawl/on her face, rest on her lips,/ would you call this/ a kiss ** The cardinals, sky-stuck,/touch pale taupe breast to pale taupe/ breast/tap piqued red beak/to beak, brown-winged, red-/mouthed, you would never/say they kissed ** a woman wears white on her brown skin/blush-red beads, a blood-red flower/kisses her nightfallen- black hair ** 2 bodies, nude , form an entryway;/he would rather turn away/than risk his arm kissing a stranger’s torso ** Hydraulic Jack drives on the freshly-mosquito-hatched/grass: earth-caked tires/foot-formed grass ** We each rush to marry/our eye to viewfinders/photograph the fox/and her kits; no one asks/about the father ** The crows call one to the other/landscape a black-streaked sky/ a danger call, fox on the ground ** What did the bird do before it had convenience/of wire? Where could it sit & observe/branch-free, sky’s often transfigured, cloudy lines? ** A murder of crows slice the sky;/they can lead you to death or/ water or/me; how do you see them ** Something in the cardinal’s DNA/causes it to shrink/from human engagement watch/the female chirp warning calls: girl/at table, feeder fifteen feet/away, stay away ** An insect I can’t name/ kisses my thumb,/from base to tip before/falling ** A walk through the fields to find/the fox, her cubs, instead, mosquitoes;/my legs now blazed with after shocks ** Hydraulic Jack’s daughter named her calf/ Dum-Dum/when I call Dum-Dum (hey there Dum-Dum!)/ I get a tail switch, a sour/eye, I put my hand out/for a kiss ** & somehow it has come to this: I have given language/ to animals ** Why has the black snake forsaken me? ** It is after 7/the horses, she says, are braying/for me, for my hand holding/carrot, apple, a wrist open/ for a soft bite ** I show you where the horse has taken my body/in his mouth: here, here, & here: wrist, elbow, &/forearm; I want your thoughts/to kiss this longing ** I’m wearing a skirt, red, your bruise wears/your arms, a red patch, a short-skirt, your eye/on my legs, my eye on your/arm, both bruised, fleshy, hot/beneath the gaze ** The fly knocks against the window/again & again & /your name in my mind/knocking ** His fingers, the guitars six strings, one thrum, over/& over, the same haunted stream; now watch us/vibrate, feet kissing the air ** The horses braying again/for half the moon to cool/their heat-stricken backs/we gaze at the stars undressing the night sky ** The fireflies alight in the grass, turn/the world upside down/ stars alight in the grass/lightning in the emptied pool’s deep end/ Whose light? **
METTA SÁMA is author of Nocturne Trio (YesYes Bøøks 2012) and South of Here (New Issues Press 2005 (published under the name Lydia Melvin)). Her poems, fiction, creative non-fiction, & book reviews have been published or forthcoming in Blackbird, bluestem, Drunken Boat, The Drunken Boat, Esque, hercricle, Jubilat, Kweli, The Owls, Pebble Lake Review, Pyrta, Reverie, Sententia, Vinyl, among others.