Again Later

The person you are trying

is not accepting. Is not

at this time. Please

again. The person

you are trying is not

in service. Please check

that you have. This

is your call. Your

person is not accepting.

Your person is this

number. You have

not correctly. Your person

is a recording. Again later

at this time. Not accepting.

More by Martha Collins

The Good Gray Wolf

Wanted that red, wanted everything tucked inside
that red, that body, it seemed, turned inside out,
that walking flower, petals furled, leaved
by the trees by the forest path, the yellow basket
marking the center--

			wanted to raise that rose
petal skin to my gray face, barely to brush
that warmth with my cold nose, but I knew she'd cry
for mercy, help, the mother who'd filled the basket
that morning, Wolf, she'd cry, Wolf, and she'd
be right, why should she try to see beyond
the fur, the teeth, the cartoon tongue wet
with anticipation?

			And so I hid behind
a tree as she passed on the path, then ran, as you know,
to her grandmother's house, but not as they say, I knocked
and when she answered I asked politely for her
advice. And then, I swear, she offered me tea,
her bonnet, an extra gown, she gave me more
than advice, she tucked me into a readied bed,
she smoothed my rough fur, I felt light
as a flower, myself, stamened and stemmed in her
sweet sheets.

			Not ate her, you see, but rather became
her, flannel chest for the red head, hood
that hid the pearl that when I touched it flushed
and shone. What big eyes! and she opened the cape,
tongue, mouth to her mouth, and opened everything,
I crooned, crawling inside, wolf to flower,
gray to rose, grandmother into child
again, howl to whisper, dagger to cloak,
my mother father animal arms, disarmed
by love, were all she ever dreamed of.

[white paper #28]

could get a credit card loan car

come and go without a never had

to think about a school work job

to open doors to buy a rent a nice

place yard park beside a walk

in any store without a never had

to dress to buy a dress shoes under-

wear to understate or –play myself 

to make myself heard to get across 

a street a never mind point I never

had to earn the right to climb  

my own if I should lose my key or

all I own my open door world was all 

before me where to choose to and I

Animal / Anima


all of us     all but us     only

(but not us) the mammals     or only

us: animal in us     or only

the male of us:     brute

 

no animals     in the Bible

only beasts     as  of the field

not us:     it says    breathed

into     in our image     of the dust

 

anima breath     to anima

soul     but all animals

breathe the     same     one

long song     the same     air
 

Related Poems

Vicarious Melancholia

It fills up the space where poems used to be,
Until there’s no space left. It’s incessant
Phone calls, figuring out money and flights to
Somewhere, nowhere, not knowing what comes next:
There’s nowhere to go, which is the problem
(I think everything’s the problem) taking its toll.
Diane looked at me cross-eyed at lunch and I sunk
Into a depression I recalled from forty years ago:
The constant consciousness of helplessness;
The constant feeling of inevitability, of the anger
At that feeling; of the separateness of persons.
Talk is like drugs, repeating what I said each night
In the morning, and on the phone each afternoon:
A different hospital each time, then the same hospital.
A fear of selfishness, an imperative of self-defense:
These are the boundaries of my life now,
The borderlines of my existence for a while.

“In the midst of life we are in death.” Any
Person’s death diminishes me, and yet the fear of
Death is something one can only face alone.
Poetry is stylized indifference, a drawing back
From the divide between my life and its negation—
Not because it’s empty, but because it’s full, too full,
Full of someone else’s.  Coming home each day
To the message light blinking on the phone,
My heart sinks as I press the button, and the dial tone
Comes as a relief, since I don’t know what to do.
It’s easier in miniature, within the limits of the page,
The confines of a single consciousness, with the drama
All offstage until the phone rings, and it starts again.

A Short Tablature of Loss

A funeral home before the funeral.
                       The ghosts it despises.

           Evaporated holy water.
Messiah of satin roses.

                                  The prayer before it becomes a prayer:
in the throat, the machine for lamenting.

*

                       Musk of kindling after fire.
           Char, as in: these hands are reaching,
but all they can grasp is air.

                                  The road the hearse used to carry the body
to the wormhole.

                       A sling carrying a body with broken clocks.
           Taproot.

*

My mother in her mainframe, captive
                      to pumps, pipes, irrigation tubes.

The spotlessness of her gown,
                                  immaculate hem of nurses’ smocks.

                      Wasping of night hours invading morning,
                                  spreading tick-tock like spilled salt.

           The way they pulled the needles off, as if freeing
a smoker’s lung from its escutcheon.

*

                                  My grandmother in her wheelchair
           at Good Samaritan Nursing Home, rubbing
                                  a rosary into dust, and flecks of gold leaf

 

on her lap, and the way she would stare

                      at a space in the wall as if God was speaking
                                  in that language.

Hurricane calm. Before the posts prayed.

           Coven of whistling thorns.

After the relocation of water: blessing and blessed.

*

           Coming home to that shack on Calle Tulipan.

                                  How the lawn had yellowed as phlegm.

 

                      How the blocks under the house had worried themselves loose.

           My father, who'd lost his leg in Korea, sprinting
along the fields to save our grapefruit from frost

                      and in his speed two spinnerets playing pat-a-cake.

*

The mark of the poor: tentativeness.

*

           A body crimpled into cassocks. The sunflower field
where it was abandoned, and the moon in its resignation.

                                  The dream of all hunters: to justify an absence
                      that requires sacrifice of innocent things.

Pulling petals from a dayflower to form a fence.

                                  Smoothing a rock to make a false eye.

           As if creating the missing of things
                                  could cure the loss of some others.

Parkinson’s Disease: Autumn

When I woke for school the next day the sky was uniform & less than infinite

with the confusion of autumn & my father

as he became distant with disease the way a boy falls beneath the ice,
before the men that cannot save him—

the cold like a forever on his lips.

Soon, he was never up before us & we’d jump on the bed,
wake up, wake up,

& my sister’s hair was still in curls then, & my favorite photograph still hung:
my father’s back to us, leading a bicycle uphill.

At the top, the roads vanish & turn—

the leaves leant yellow in a frozen sprint of light, & there, the forward motion.

The nights I laid in the crutch of my parents’ doorway & dreamt awake,
listened like a field of snow,

I heard no answer. Then sleepless slept in my own arms beneath the window
to the teacher’s blank & lull—

Mrs. Belmont’s lesson on Eden that year. Autumn: dusk:

my bicycle beside me in the withered & yet-to-be leaves,

& my eyes closed fast beneath the mystery of migration, the flock’s rippled wake: