QUIETER

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

rooms/hallways/kitchens/commodes.​

You’ve dismissed me, darling.

You don’t think I realize it, but,

                                               forgive me,

I know abandonment when it is present;

its silence is deafening.

PROSELYTE

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.

FRESHET*

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

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