109 Bermuda

I build it, I build the house, I build the eaves, I build the roof where we looked for stars, I build the ever-clogged gutters for which no time could be found, I build the brick face and the curb appeal, I build the door slamming open as the child flew forth into what the window framed, the streets calling my name, I build the lintel where they bent their heads in whispers, I build the climb and precarious, I build the sky with its tiny points of light which might be my mother coming home at last, I build the last two-story she might ever own clean and free, I build the longing, I build the view to the wicked canal, I build the red front porch where the bottle fell and bled its wine, where the last chance of reconciliation also shattered and never forget it was my fault, my careless, which left the dark red stain, I build the sometime home now paved over and prime real-estate condominium, I build the memory like something I can inhabit, and the sawgrass he planted and the lemon trees she cherished, perhaps if I build it there will finally be room for the broken, the missing, therein to dwell.

 


I build it, I build the house, I build the eaves, I build the roof where we looked for stars, I build the ever-clogged gutters for which no time could be found, I build the brick face and the curb appeal, I build the door slamming open as the child flew forth into what the window framed, the streets calling my name, I build the lintel where they bent their heads in whispers, I build the climb and precarious, I build the sky with its tiny points of light which might be my mother coming home at last, I build the last two-story she might ever own clean and free, I build the longing, I build the view to the wicked canal, I build the red front porch where the bottle fell and bled its wine, where the last chance of reconciliation also shattered and never forget it was my fault, my careless, which left the dark red stain, I build the sometime home now paved over and prime real-estate condominium, I build the memory like something I can inhabit, and the sawgrass he planted and the lemon trees she cherished, perhaps if I build it there will finally be room for the broken, the missing, therein to dwell.

Related Poems

Red Delicious

       I used to eat
               her keen sight
                     and its laser
                            serrations
                surgical rotations
                            undressing
                          bone-white
                   in clockwise
                  countdown
                   around a
            prenatal core
                       its cyanide
                                 unborn
                          this unsung
                       artist carving 
                        her curving
                       relief as if
              by a craving
            of curvature
                 itself for
            conclusion:
                       or else
                            of some
                                rondure
                                   so sheer                                              
                                 as to molt
                                    its skin
                                of matter
                           turn after
                             turn on
                   the unseen                              
               potter’s lathe
               of unmaking:
                thumb-spun
                 by a suddenly
                       unknowable Eve
                           who might soon
                                          no longer
                                            deign to
                                           receive
                                    the name
                                  Mother

paper dolls (for darnell arnoult)

perhaps
it is the joy of tomato sandwiches
the smell of jergens and jean nate
at thirteen
or our love still for grandmothers aunts
who enter rooms
largely sideways
hips broad enough
to use as sideboards
maybe it is the value
we place on duke’s mayonnaise
the sandwich spread for queens…

whatever wherever and for ever more
we are little girls
revisiting space
rebuilding houses
renaming mothers…

perhaps it is the secret
knotted inside the pleats of skirt hems
sewn along scarf edges
fringed secret whispers
that whisper a familiar smell…

whatever we become
sisters
stealing a moment
to cast word spells
undress our mothers
repaint their lips with anything red anything Italian
drench their heads with ancient clairol wisdom
anoint their hands with herstorical bronze
queen of the nile henna…

we reembrace
lace
full petticoats
white linen skirts
sailor dresses
patent leather

for the pretty pirates
swans
ballerinas
we will become…

perfumed necks
wrists adorned
in vintage memory
cut carefully
along the edges
of this madness
this magic…

we lie down
and wait for the moon
to trace us.

Living Room

God sees me. I see you. You’re just like me.
       This is the cul-de-sac I’ve longed to live on.
Pure-white and dormered houses sit handsomely

along the slate-roofed, yew-lined neighborhood.
       Past there is where my daughters walk to school,
across the common rounded by a wood.

And in my great room, a modest TV
     informs me how the earth is grown so small,
ringed in spice routes of connectivity.

My father lived and died in his same chair
       and kept it to one beer. There’s good in that.
Who could look down upon, or even dare

to question, what he managed out of life?
       Age makes us foolish. Still, he had a house,
a patch of grass and room to breathe, a wife.

It’s my house now, and I do as I please.
       I bless his name. I edge the yard, plant greens.
Our girls swing on the porch in a coming breeze.