|Brenda Shaughnessy [Sylvia Plachy]|
from Brenda Shaughnessy’s Our Andromeda:
This Person-Sized Sky with Bruise
simultaneously orange and violet
(though my eyes are closed), is
either my inner color (that covered mirror)
or simply dusk.
An opaline sheet
pulled because the night is ashamed
to come in front of everyone,
blacking out in joy.
Too shy to spill its milk on the stained
tablecloth of strangers
as I have. When it’s finally dark
outside, it’s finally
loose inside and the doubleness
of things seems too true to be good:
my way and the highway.
Night. It has two hands
I can use. Its fingers in a plum
too ripe not to split.
I had to split it. It was so much
itself — bloody flesh,
wild purple skin. A fistful
so lush it was almost imaginary,
smelling of love, it didn’t matter whose.
Card O: The Fool
Yes, you, fool. You don’t fool
me, you fraud. I’m the fool.
I don’t care. I run without
pants in winter, cock
tucked into my asshole
for warmth and a fun feeling.
It looks good, right? I take
my feet in my hands
and fringe the public scaffold
with my skunked stuff. Sexual
and digestive. It’s so funny.
Are you embarrassed?
Why? You didn’t do
anything but like it.
Foolish reader, can’t like
what you like.
Like what you want to like.
Do what you want to like
to do. Don’t do what you don’t
want to like to do.
To think that, in my sorrow,
I thought it was permissible to flick
myself away like a fly from the full-length
mirror on opening night. Curled the hot
hair around my crowded face,
warming up the audience for a flop.
I thought I’d be bought something,
by one who admired me. Some lost meal,
hours of fat drink check, a copselike rope
of rubies for my waist. But no. I’m selfsame:
a wordsmith wearing too much paint,
my inking irons heavy in the rain.
The night is an imperfect story
for us all. It leaves things out.
The witch’s song can’t prove itself
beautiful enough to sing at dawn
for the enchanted child
in an ordinary story about the night.
No small favor, no laughing matter.
Pass the meat through a slot
in the chamber. This whole self
can be as silent as a chain saw rusted
on the broken fever of my song’s rain,
my night’s story, my ink iron’s brains.
In spite of the spot-checking,
the self-seeking, the meticulous soul-smithing,
I am still me, lacking.
Like murders in books, but with reverse
precision. how anyone becomes herself
is a mystery. A miracle. A myth.