7.03 / March 2012

Three Poems


In one story you wash up
on a cold shore, your blue lips parted
                    around hidden pleasures-
and even sodden, scrubbed by salt, cocooned in thick plastic,
you blonde and you starlet;

it’s my hope that a handsome
                    agent of the FBI
will investigate your death,
          determine its mystical origin,
but until then, the real story:
you just didn’t wake up.

There are many ways to die
but I thought yours would be in a Daimler,
practicing an aria
just before your cream cashmere scarf
spooled around a tire, winching you into the sunset.

Or maybe you are covered in gold leaf
and suffocated
quite prettily,
          face down,
          your bottom shining like a good idea,
because we breathe
               through our skin, or no,

we live because our skin
might one day be accessed
by a spy’s methodical hand.
No amount of excess beauty
          can make up for that hand’s withdrawal.

Let us be naked in every way,
                         absent of adornment,
and when the story’s end asks for you
                    let’s say you were only kidding,
part your mouth again and let a measure slip
                    like a kimono off your shoulder,
cross and uncross your heart
          with plain speech integrity,
and hope not to die.


She’s not a gate left unlatched.
The garden is not one
                    where the tree branches brush the ground
because the fruit is so heavy,
                    and she’s not that rotting sweetness
                    or that fermented juice,
                    she’s not the monkeys
pawing it to their mouths
                    or their drunken stumbling after.
She is not a golden apple
                    or the lust for possession.
She’s not the foot race that ends with her married off,
               and she’s not the lion skin she wears
because proper thanks were forgotten.
                              She thanks.
                              She thanks the wedding guests
                              who brought so many presents.
The vacuum that never loses suction.
The immersion blender.
The golden apple rolling down the aisle.
The ships
that crowd the shore.
The men
who tear her away
and the man who tosses her over one broad shoulder.
She is not the beauty this implies.
               She’s not a face that slips
                              the ships from dock.
She doesn’t race after an apple
               for knowledge but would to forget.
               She does not apple, ever.
She’s not Peachtree Street or Peachtree Street or Peachtree Street.
               She’s not the Majestic
                              serving food that pleases.
She does not please.


Consider the imperatives.
Drape the leg. Fan the golden
                         hair up a freckled flank, the taut
belly, calculate through juniper, through sloe
                              and the faraway chime
                    of ice and highball
how high to sprawl
up the bed to show reticence but not so far
as to avoid touch. In the next room
               the party has deteriorated,

there is a penchant
                    for ironic porn
on the television, for wistful techno
                         swayed to by stragglers,
          the dregs swilling the dregs.

Here there is a locked door.
Here there is a man
               standing with full
                    awareness, in his hands
a camera
               trained on the two women
                         who have the look of desire
if not the exact color of it,
     who are aware of his eyes and their own,
                    and once so observed
                    are no longer pure
               in their actions,
and who proceed
                         with a procedural thoroughness
                              and little pleasure,
                    although there is some pleasure
                              after all.

Rebecca Hazelton has been published or is forthcoming in Agni, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, and others. She has received fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work was selected for Best New Poets 2011, and she is the recipient of the Boston Review/Discovery Award for 2012. More at rebeccahazelton.net.
7.03 / March 2012