Martina Reisz Newberry
Could it get any quieter? A silence
so profound, a stillness in the atmosphere,
a vacuum opening to swallow
my atonement—space where there is no sound;
you put my pleas there.
I whispered forgive me
every time I passed you in
You’ve dismissed me, darling.
You don’t think I realize it, but,
I know abandonment when it is present;
its silence is deafening.
I had a dramatic conversion.
Sudden and terrible,
I could see the place I would be
standing, dreaming that dream of
discovering a path
out of the skein of paths.
My heart converted, just then,
to the religion of Idiocy:
A study of the complications of supper,
the confusion of weather,
the dissolution of poems.
" . . . IN THESE PLACES SCORPIONS ARE BORN”*
When the faucet handle
came off in my hand,
I cursed it as if it
was an omen of some kind.
And it was, of course, just that.
All through the day, I looked for
more portents and they were there:
the gravel out front changed
colors when the sky drizzled
and the skin over the backs
of my hands and tops
of my feet was stretched too tight
as if over a drumhead.
A bug I didn’t recognize
crawled out from under a cabinet
and disappeared before
I could find the bug spray.
I proceeded carefully and still,
The signs stayed ahead of me.
I chose meditation and heard
Just this one koan echoing
in my head––over and over:
Is derangement a devotional practice?
*From Tabula Peutingeriana (medieval copy of Roman map): “in his locis scorpiones nascuntur”–used to signify dangerous or unexplored expanses in imitation of the medieval practice of putting dragons and other strange/mythological creatures in blank areas of maps.
Just by looking at them, we change things. Just by breathing on them
they are made different.The mind of a river is easily manipulated,
often changed. It remains water, whatever its movement.
We who are being visited by age still swim through our dreams
and memories never quite sure which is which and, wondering, too,
if our dreams and memories remember us with the same fervor.
Have you not wanted to say to a recollection, “I am still here. My
mouth still craves kisses; my hair still hankers for tangling, my limbs
still know how to curl and uncurl. My hands still know how to please”?
Maybe it is a woman thing, (like those other women things visions,
dancing, psychic manifestations, empathy, unsated hunger). Have you not
written that letter to one of your fondest memories––the one that lists
the reasons for mind-blowing sex? The letter that speaks of awakenings
and such familiarity with a body that a muscle twitch will tell you
what is desired . . . ? And, in that letter, have you not asked “Do you remember?
I remember. Tell me you remember.” here it is: we’ve changed it all just
by remembering. We’ve flooded our beings with melted yes-that’s-how-it-was
and was-it-like-that-for-you and all the while we hurtle ourselves at the sea
creating new water for a new ocean
*Freshet: The flood of a river from heavy rain or melted snow; a rush of fresh water flowing into the sea.
CATHERINE WALTERS––LIKE LAKE WATER*
She says, once upon a time,
she won the gold crown, first place,
for knowing the road to love.
She could love like giraffes––long,
lean, wound around each other.
She could love like a pigeon,
mated for life. She could love
like a rhino, standing still
while being jumped from behind.
She could love like a seahorse,
twining her tail with a “him” in
something so public as an
aquarium. She says that
she often gilded her lovers
with sugar and almond paste,
smoothed them until their faces
and bodies were flawless, slick
as polished glass and sweet. She
watched her lovers prance and preen,
Pleased with their bodies, sure of their
glory because she told them they
were glorious. She washed her
self in rose water and milk,
rinsed her hair in spirits and honey.
She wished to be wanted as
intensely as seafoam wants shore,
wanted to be sought as
ferociously as Galahad
searched for the Holy Grail.
It was little to ask,
a woman who had won the
First Place Gold Crown. So little
to ask as repayment for
her gift of unquestioning,
though often airless, love.
Love on a continuum,
on the sly, on the road,
on the bed, on the floor,
on the rug in the den.
At 80, seated at her desk,
she wrote into a blue journal
in a fragile, lacy hand,
breathed like lake water,
“Don’t forget me. Please,
don’t forget me.”
*Catherine Walters was a beautiful fashion icon and English courtesan who did not retire until she was 80 years old. She did so with both money and a favorable legacy. Born in Liverpool, England in 1839, died in London in1920