Elegy in which the film degrades
She has seen the angle a man shudders into. /
The slab of haunch a promise. This woman /
whose face opens like a butchers’ knot. /
“Both my daughters know how to grieve,” /
she says, but something beats against /
this. Past the window, a blind of rain and dirtier. /
If tonight I flatten to a list. “Shabby and hot” /
is what she called me, and then I showed her real fire. /
So this arrow opens its fever: Where there is one
cut there are five. To say nothing of the light
is to say nothing of how a dead room can warp
cankers into lovers. The thickness of sickness
swelters and under its skin. Still the beauty
of the body’s swollen crown. All its gilded
mars.——Peel back the spears, the bitter thistle.
—–Eat the oily heart.
The slab of haunch a promise: a slow answer
takes hold. By hour’s end, what is left of her story
will turn clean. What is left
will turn the water at the bed
of the one who breaks into wave.
Tell it like this:
The yarn of the body unravels. Then the body
Story with red heels in its mouth
She was a princess and I was a princess. This is to say, we were both princesses.
She was the princess of silver before we knew it and also of rubbing. I was the princess
of chainlink and butter and after each recess my girl hands still kissed
with the feeling of clouds where they’d rubbed against granite because yes, even then,
I wanted to save her. Because she was east of where I was I had to travel east
to get to her. Each afternoon I wound my mouth from the mouth of the golden river,
I began to travel and I could feel my teeth turn in. I tuned my path only to the scent
of her perspiration. The sky was sweating also, for it could feel me moving my longing
under it. It was not her, exactly, that I longed for. It was a vacuum rougher than air.
The whole kingdom crept with a static, knowing I was coming. But the birds were still
birds. Our fathers were clouds of the hardest cloud, and I passed under and away from them.
It went on like this, the path was long and if you asked I would say I did not remember how hard it thrummed against me, how it felt me moving and did not open
like a sea opens, how in fact it closed very hard around my hand and did not open
again until it felt my pulse still live and heavy, and how then the trees fell silent
and the fences fell silent and were golden and silent, and I did not listen to their silence
but kept moving my feet.
Now is a silhouette. Now is a cold ballerina dancing forever. It is after that.
She and I are turning and turning. I rub once more against paper and leave it
tucked behind her throne. And we kick off our red heels. Our red heels go flying
into the white wall and the black wall and the next wall and the next.
Sabbath for a Dry Season
It was not raining, had only
once rained, would never rain
again. Across the river, the sun
made angels appear stoic.
——–In a dark wet room two people
——–burn holes in each other. In Styx.
——–In the middle of a dope dream
——–and the walls are very quiet
——–and the sky is burning
——–and Out There
——–in the thin night
——–a girl unhooks her bones
If Love is
——–strings and bark
——–the backs of bows hitting rock
——–ankles caught at the bottom of a bed
——–Jupiter and his 63 moons
——–If faith is
Sticky lotteries in a pick-up truck.
They write books about this sort of magic: It is dark
forever and then it is light. Deer legs buckle into
two shooting stars.
——–No one is bleeding behind that tree.
——–No one is writing poems to stop
——–that make-believe blood.
*”Elegy” previously appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, “Story with red heels” previously appeared in Ninth Letter, and “Sabbath for a Dry Season” previously appeared in Parthenon West Review.
Anne Marie Rooney’s first book, Spitshine, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in early 2012. She has worked as an artists’ model, an ESL teacher, and an indexer, and was most recently a lecturer at Cornell University, where she earned her MFA in Poetry. She is the recipient of the Iowa Review Award, the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, and the Amy Award, given by Poets & Writers Magazine. Her writing has appeared in the Best New Poets and Best American Poetry anthologies, and a chapbook, The Buff, is the latest edition of the Cupboard’s pamphlet series. Born and raised in New York City, she currently lives in New Orleans, where she is a teaching artist in the Silence Is Violence program.