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To participate in the Friday Feast meme click here. Questions?  jenneandrews2010@gmail.com.  I’m also featured in Leslie Moon’s beautiful artist and writer series at One Stop Poetry today.

Chalice

for C.A.

All I know is, when her soul

seemed to fail her, I had no choice.

In the lifting up I became another

venturing, could shake far cries in realms

unguessed. Nor could I return

without the shade of her

who carried me into her need, beyond

mere mercies.

.

from The Violence of Unseen Forms,

the collection Dear Ghosts

Tess Gallagher

.

Weary of the saga

our obsession with the saga,

I blot out the light.

.

But I dream of spots on a car’s upholstery,

chlorophyll, chloroform, duct tape–

skull bones taped to jaws

prodigious prosecutors opining

defense lawyers like runners

on the rim of time

the sonnets of their testimonials.

.

We cannot escape collective obsession

the will fails and we pitch into it

where we sink in beyond mere mercies

like wet tar

witness to the witnesses

mouthing indictments

forgetting who looks out

from our dry, rebuking eyes.

.

First: the mother– she binds herself to the mast

like Jocasta

the mother, her moony madness

her tan and frosted hair.

.

Then I watch your face, the mad

daughter’s face. Ophelia then Persephone.

A Magdelene, a mime. Soon it is a face

I see in the mirror instead of my own.

the dark hair, the lashed blue eyes,

the resolved rouged mouth.

.

I see the bones laid out,

the small skull

and I think of the child

with cornflower eyes

I had torn from me.

I see the grandmother with the child

stepping into a dream of water

.

And I remember my own drowning

in the seas of the world

setting a course

only to end up hooked

at the edge of the waterfall

.

So that someone in a helicopter

had to come and haul me up

into his khaki-sheathed arms.

.

We all want to be saved.

But if you held her underwater

were you not drowning yourself.

If you drugged her

.

Kissing her with an eyedropper of chloroform

like a mother bird

even as you sped away

into the night

its profaning neon havens

have you not

undone yourself

for all time.

.

Ii

.

We want evidence to tell us the truth

but it bears the circumspection of chaff.

I want to know what my father

did to me to make me give myself

so freely to men who remind me

of him.

.

He cannot tell me;

his is the stillness

of the earth around dwarfed pine trees

.

I want my mother to rise from the dead

to forgive my dispossession of her

but I weep in the dusk

while someone says I must forgive myself.

.

Truth is the acetylene–

it sears away the infected flesh

of the most gilded, all-deluding lie.

Weary girl

in your living tomb

.

Tell the truth. tell it to the world.

I will stand with you

fellow murderer, fellow thief,

fellow liar.

.

iii

.

Shame runs a course like a river of fire.

Unaware of this, the old dusty men

of the courts, lairs redolent

with formaldehyde

lay their hands on our white marble bodies.

They cut our hearts out of our chest

they open our legs

and crawl back in to the womb

like brown worms screwing themselves

into the loam.

.

Even so we think that the lies we tell

to save ourselves

are acceptable

to our souls. I remember

terrorizing a small and vulnerable thing

until it hated and feared me

.

And I denied that I had brought torment

into the world

.

And then I hated and feared myself.

until I begged that one’s forgiveness

and my shame pried my mouth open

there, the black pearls of truth

next to the chalice of my own blood.

.

Beautiful damned girl, say it. Rise up.

Open your veins: bleed

into the cup.

.

copyright Jenne’ R. Andrews 2011

Feel free to share but attribute to me.  I’m at jenneandrews2010@gmail.com, and on Facebook.

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