Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Virginia's Journal

is encased behind glass at the British Library
and they have opened it to this page of self-assurance
where she writes that it is now, with the book that will
become Mrs. Dalloway
that she finally found the arc, the water line,
the place where she stops worrying about what other
people think of her writing,

not her sister
nor her husband.

She writes that she has truly found her voice.
And I wonder, my hands pressed against the cool
glass of the Treasury Room,
such a perfect name,
how long did that last Virginia?

How long did the belief nestle in your hollow bird bones,
before it flew away from you. Because you put it on paper
we can believe it was forever, but it wasn't, was it?
The next day was much worse.

New York has your cane, Virginia,
the one you left bank side when you walked into the water.
It is owned by a city you didn't consider
in a country you didn't plan to visit.

This is what they do, this dissecting.
You should have taken it all with you, Virginia.
Tied your journals to your back for weight,
tucked that cane under your arm, a pocket watch that will stop.
All those carefully chosen words, like petals,
inked on onion-skin paper will float like lily pads.
You should have sailed off by that northern star
and left them all wondering,
Why, where is Virginia? She is awfully late for tea.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Season of Snails

-for Oscar

I was telling Oscar the other day,
about the season of snails,
The way the spirals on the shells
which are so delicate, just keep swirling
and how I stop on my walk
to run a fingernail around the edge
and their little eyes on antenna
roll up at me.

And then I start to worry,
I worry that they will get stepped on,
that I will step on their delicate shells
with my big stomping boots
because I am not paying attention

or that they will be hidden under all
the dead leaves that litter the sidewalk
and I won’t see them
or that that a businessman
so intent on catching the bus to Manhattan
won’t take the time to avoid the snails

and they will be crushed as if they were never there, nevermore
and the thought brings me to tears, so that I have to stop at the wall,
and watch them exist in case on the way home, they are gone,

and then I realize,
I sound like a crazy person.
Poor Oscar. What madness I put people through.
I don’t even tell him about the missing organs
the ground teeth, just nubs of shattered white
the red pumping fist,
in it’s place there is just a picture of heart
torn from a medical text
onion skin thin, taped on. My lungs
fat wet fish are missing too. Just images taped up in place of the real thing.

My jaw, broken, knocked lose,
I have only a wrist and a hand
that melancholy holds
and she’s making me take her everywhere in the city
with her little white curls in her hair
and her grip is fierce and cold and
I can hear her silvery whisper in my ear all day.

This is my season, I suppose
and the snails will be gone in a few weeks
but I’ll still worry about them, like a crazy person
the way Oscar will still worry about me,
reading these notes from the other side of the ocean,
where it’s almost noon and time for a drink.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I am growing out my hair
to my feet and when I look
in the mirror it will not be me anymore.
I will dye it with ink,
darker than your night
jet black and I will sell it.
They will string violins with it
and use it to make necklaces
and that piece of me will be gone.

And then I will give away my bones,
the ones in my hand first,
hollow like a birds
and like a birds,
easily crushed. And then the ones in my feet.

I will lay out the pieces of me
skin and muscle side by side, like memories
of folded paper, undone, wrinkled, pressed smooth
with the flesh of my hands and your hands
gathered together like those moments that we
try to remember
or worse,
like the moments we try not to remember
from ten years ago.

And I will give that part away too,
tied to a rock and sent down
to the bottom of the black ocean.
Until everything I am, has fluttered away

I will be a different woman,
Severed from the reflection you saw
And then I won’t have to worry anymore
If I am still that person you once loved.