8.06 / June 2013

Three Poems

Ritual

listen to this poem

Let’s write a hypothetical. Let’s write a wall that’s impermeable but through which you can still feel the contours of, say, breasts. The wall is solid (not like a curtain) with (non-soundproof) insulation. Transparent.
 
 
A wall through which you could convincingly mime eating blueberries (here I’m talking about the frozen bagged kind but fresh will also do) without anything passing through your body.
 
 
Given, performance = ritual + communication. When you do something you’ve practiced a million times in front of (for the benefit of) at least one individual outside yourself.
 
 
Let’s say you have eighty-eight keys, a 56/32 white/black ratio with no other colors and no members of any grayscale. Given, you know every sound they make. You built the instrument yourself.
 
 
Performance is when you stand in front of some people and push that finite number of buttons in a particular very time-sensitive order behind the wall:
 
 
It, and perfectly. It, and perfectly. It, and perfectly. It, and perfectly. It, and perfectly everyone claps,
 
 
and through the hypothetical wall, so there is absolutely nothing in your digestive tract, or even at your fingertips, which means you don’t have have eighty-eight keys. You have your own fingers
 
 
with which you communicated something about your experience of life in four non-permeable walls. Which: lonely. At least, but
 
 
let’s say one morning you wake up and you realize these days you’re always with at least one individual outside yourself.
 
 
Let’s say that individual is a human female. Given: the human female is a healing machine, all rounded wood, all keys and pumps and buttons. Given: this woman loves you.
 
 
When you look at this woman who loves you. When you look at this woman who loves you every morning. When you go to the grocery store with this woman who loves you.
 
 
When you have, say, eighty-eight keys and a woman who loves you. When you hit a wrong note. When you look at a woman who loves you. When you lie in bed with a woman who loves you. When you hit the wall.
 
 
When the woman who loves you is outside you. When the woman who loves you has, say, two eyes and they’re pointed at you. It, and permanently.


Heirloom

listen to this poem

Half a stack of cheap Tuscan stoneware in the pantry,
the other half broken when Veronica tripped up the stairs last spring at the Frank Lloyd Wright house.
 
 
 
 

A trembling between windows in the kitchen we call ours, in which
we placed the plates carefully. We said the plates could stay in our house.
We spoke with our tongues, which touch at night. The only subject matter—
matter for eating, matter for dreaming—is what has been seen.
In the morning, questions about Cheerios,
where to put the coffee maker,
which vegetables to buy this week.
 
 
Gentle after so many years of foreign other people,
their chipped mugs and cars and the stains of dried beer
they leave behind them, the Veronicas.
 
 
 
 
 
 

This is not to say anything about Veronica or the other people that live in this town because reasons do flow away the longer life becomes.
The dishes shake like leaves and float down the river. Days
too. Tomato after green tomato from the farm up the street
blooms red and beating in time. My amygdala strains and fails
beneath the smell of Tide. Underwear in the laundry like
a bell in the head.
 
 
 
 
In my hometown, my friends are all wearing tuxedos to each other’s weddings
 
 
and licking icing from roses.
I don’t mean to sound perverse; it is beautiful. The icing
suggests the expanse of their bodies under all that cloth, bodies I touched as velvet
and figuratively ran through my fingers even on the day I moved into our apartment.
 
 
The question is not of wear, the holes in the fabric, but where to store the memory of old loved skins without harm of fire, flood, or blackout,
 
 
next to the new, the whitewashing of the everyday, the first and the last.


Harpsichord

listen to this poem

Three men fold up the harpsichord like
a pair of pants and wheel it out the front door of the Frank Lloyd Wright house,
 
 
its pine angles, all widowed, filled with photographs of other families
who lived here in great happiness.
 
 
 
 
 
It barely fits.
And I am underwater in the shower of the bathroom

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
at the Frank Lloyd Wright house standing
still, screaming.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Over the wet tile echo the echo
of the train’s whistle
 
 
passing through on the way to Chicago
from a few towns away, the echo
 
 
being absorbed by the square pine walls.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Seems to me the
crunch of the gravel in the driveway is enough to make anyone do that thing they do
whenever they are on the wrong end of the Doppler effect.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Seems to me the harpsichord
is measurably and increasingly safer the larger the distance between the truck containing the three men and the three legs and the approximately sixty-five strings and the Frank Lloyd Wright house becomes.
 
 
 
 
 
 
As this distance increases in size,
 
 
a harpsichord is truly not a harp.
It is not a drum so it does not beat.
 
 
A harpsichord is a little wooden box
in which potential sound lives, and
 
 
the Frank Lloyd Wright house is
a little wooden box with a little
 
 
 
 
ceramic box inside it where I am
standing with my mouth pressed
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
against the wall about five feet and
eight inches above the drain.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Every thing is a bunch of little pieces that make a thing that makes a sound.
 
 
And, frankly, the acoustics in this midcentury modern shower are just awesome,
and frankly I would rather go deaf than move out.


Lauren Clark is a noted Beyoncé enthusiast and MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, where she serves as an editorial intern at the Michigan Quarterly Review. Her poems have appeared in NAP and 491 Magazine. More at http://aestiva.tumblr.com.
8.06 / June 2013

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE