Cate Marvin Poems



A Brief Attachment



I regard your affection, find your teeth have

left me a bruise necklace. The lipstick marks

†† leech a trail, ear to ear, facsimile your smile.

†† Your 40 ounces of malt beverage, your shrink

hate, your eyes dialing 911. The hearts you

draw with ballpoint on my cigarette packs

†† when Iíve left the room, penned in your girlís


cursive, look demented, misshapen approximations

of what I refuse to hand over. Itís a nice touch,

†† though: a little love to accompany the cancer.

†† My thought follows you to where you spend

your days lying in bed, smoking and reading

the Beats. The accumulation of clothes and ashes

†† circles you, rises like a moat after rainfall.


You are a study in detachment Ė the trigger eye

is your eye, still as a finger poised to press should

†† one refuse to cooperate, and I wonder why you

†† hate men so much when it seems you think like

one. Think of what I could be doing outside if

I could unlock the door of myself: think bikini,

†† think soda fountain, think tradition, a day lacking


entirely your brand of ambivalence. If you were

a number, Iíd subtract you; if you were a sentence,

†† Iíd rewrite you. Are you the one who left these

†† wilted flowers, are you the one whose PIN spells

out H-O-L-E? Why are you wearing my clothes?

If you are weather, then Iím a town, closing down

†† at word of your coming: youíre a glacier on fast


forward, youíre direct as a detour, when I say

good-bye you move in next door. You say you

†† want to have my baby, you want to buy me a car,

†† and youíre too young to enter a bar. I should tether

you to a tree in the dark park, allow the moon to stroke

your white neck. I should give you a diamond collar,

†† walk you around the block, and show you off.







Cate Marvin's first book, World's Tallest Disaster, was chosen by Robert Pinksy for the 2000 Kathryn A. Morton Prize and published by Sarabande Books in 2001. In 2002, she received the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize. Her poems have appeared in The New England Review, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Fence, The Paris Review, Mid-American Review, Slate and are forthcoming in The Boston Review and Verse. She is co-editor with poet Michael Dumanis of the anthology Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century, forthcoming from Sarabande Books in January 2006. Currently, she is an assistant professor in creative writing at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York.





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