Part of a Song
One mother said she was irritated, wondering what her family
would do for Mother’s Day. She was holding another woman’s baby,
said she had two children, two & eight years old. I wanted to hold
the baby, to ask, but all I could do was shake my hair to make him
laugh, always afraid that the sweetness of holding will break me
into glass, shattering away in thin shards, tinkling, or that in asking,
the mother will see how desperately I need to hold her child, & she’ll
fear me, turn away like I did from the melted girl, burned
as a baby in a fire over eighty percent of her body, homeless
now, epileptic, in her early 20s, wisps of hair like on an old
neglected baby doll, brave in her jean jacket, pushing open the door.
It was almost Thanksgiving, & she’d bitten her tongue so badly,
she hadn’t eaten for three days. When I asked how are you,
perfunctorily, she said she was scared to live alone, afraid
of her tongue, swallowing. Leaning on the water-stained wallpaper
she said, can I talk to you? Her name was a part of a song, & she started
to cry when I began to listen, she asked, can’t we go somewhere?
A room a place to talk? But I had a meeting down the hall,
I was administration, & turned away, her skin made into rivers,
the way a candle melts, her whole life burning like some far off planet.
P. 19: The photograph shows not the Wheellock Pistol, in steel, gold, walnut, and bone, from 1540 Munich as intended, but an untitled work from Bath that carousels the scales of centuries of bodies culled from the healing hot spring. Includes tabs for psoriasis, red and peeling skin, motes, moles, and fungi.
P. 40: The photograph shows not Dresser’s Claret Pitcher of 1880, as intended, but a bird who sees me on the beach, his dark eye meeting my blue.
P. 119: The photograph shows not de Chirico’s The Song of Love of 1914, as intended, but the girl who stood at the top of the house screaming a prayer, using her body like a hammer.
P. 122: The photograph shows not Hesse’s Repetition 19 of 1968, as intended, but Modigliani, who makes me want to recline along the long bed of his name, my eyes modulating into tall consonants.
P. 162: The photograph shows not Wright’s Living Room for the Little House of 1912-14, as intended, but snow, rocking, having to lie down on the floor and hold on, as if the floor might move.
P. 216: The photograph shows not Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral of 1958, as intended, but the darkness in Science class, each planet in hand like plastic fruit.
P. 440: The photograph shows not Peale’s Still Life: Balsam, Apple, and Vegetables of the 1820s, as intended, but a seat at the café de nuit, a moon tabletop.
P. 810: The photograph shows not Rosenquist’s House of Fire of 1981, as intended, but the light in a reading eye like a pearl and the lamp turning Jamie’s thinking pupil glinty red, like her triangle ring from a woman she argues with. Includes the serotonin in poem, the alphabet below the ceiling, and the pleasure of “r.”
Kelle Groom’s poetry collections are Underwater City (University Press of Florida 2004) and Luckily (Anhinga Press 2006). Her poems have appeared in AGNI Online, Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Florida Review, The New Yorker, The Texas Observer, Witness and elsewhere. She lives in Orlando, Florida.
Archived at http://lit.konundrum.com/poetry/groomk_poems.htm