Domestic Mysticism

Lucie Brock-Broido - 1956-2018
In thrice 10,000 seasons, I will come back to this world
In a white cotton dress. Kingdom of After My Own Heart.
Kingdom of Fragile. Kingdom of Dwarves. When I come home,
Teacups will quiver in their Dresden saucers, pentatonic chimes
Will move in wind. A covey of alley cats will swarm on the side
Porch & perch there, portents with quickened heartbeats
You will feel against your ankles as you pass through.

After the first millennium, we were supposed to die out.
You had your face pressed up against the coarse dyed velvet
Of the curtain, always looking out for your own transmigration:
What colors you would wear, what cut of jewel,
What kind of pageantry, if your legs would be tied
Down, if there would be wandering tribes of minstrels
Following with woodwinds in your wake.

This work of mine, the kind of work which takes no arms to do,
Is least noble of all. It's peopled by Wizards, the Forlorn,
The Awkward, the Blinkers, the Spoon-Fingered, Agnostic Lispers,
Stutterers of Prayer, the Flatulent, the Closet Weepers,
The Charlatans. I am one of those. In January, the month the owls
Nest in, I am a witness & a small thing altogether. The Kingdom
Of Ingratitude. Kingdom of Lies. Kingdom of How Dare I.

I go on dropping words like little pink fish eggs, unawares, slightly
Illiterate, often on the mark. Waiting for the clear whoosh
Of fluid to descend & cover them. A train like a silver 
Russian love pill for the sick at heart passes by
My bedroom window in the night at the speed of mirage.
In the next millenium, I will be middle aged. I do not do well
In the marrow of things. Kingdom of Trick. Kingdom of Drug.

In a lung-shaped suburb of Virginia, my sister will be childless
Inside the ice storm, forcing the narcissus. We will send
Each other valentines. The radio blowing out
Vaughan Williams on the highway's purple moor.
At nine o'clock, we will put away our sewing to speak
Of lofty things while, in the pantry, little plants will nudge
Their frail tips toward the light we made last century.

When I come home, the dwarves will be long
In their shadows & promiscuous. The alley cats will sneak
Inside, curl about the legs of furniture, close the skins
Inside their eyelids, sleep. Orchids will be intercrossed & sturdy.
The sun will go down as I sit, thin armed, small breasted
In my cotton dress, poked with eyelet stitches, a little lace,
In the queer light left when a room snuffs out.

I draw a bath, enter the water as a god enters water:
Fertile, knowing, kind, surrounded by glass objects
Which could break easily if mishandled or ill-touched.
Everyone knows an unworshipped woman will betray you.
There is always that promise, I like that. Kingdom of Kinesis.
Kingdom of Benevolent. I will betray as a god betrays,
With tenderheartedness. I've got this mystic streak in me.

More by Lucie Brock-Broido

Carrowmore


All about Carrowmore the lambs
Were blotched blue, belonging.

They were waiting for carnage or
Snuff. This is why they are born

To begin with, to end.
Ruminants do not frighten

At anything--gorge in the soil, butcher
Noise, the mere graze of predators.

All about Carrowmore
The rain quells for three days.

I remember how cold I was, the botched
Job of traveling. And just so.

Wherever I went I came with me.
She buried her bone barrette

In the ground's woolly shaft.
A tear of her hair, an old gift

To the burnt other who went
First. My thick braid, my ornament--

My belonging I
Remember how cold I will be.

Real Life


Soon the electrical wires will grow heavy under the snow.
I am thinking of fire of the possibility of fire & then moving

Across America in a car with a powder blue dashboard,
Moving to country music & the heart

Is torn a little more because the song says the truth.
Because in the thirty-six things that can happen

To people, men & women, women & women,
Men & men, in all these things the soul is bound

To be broken somewhere along the line,
That clove-scented, air-colored wanderer blushing

With no memory, no inkling & then proceeds
Across America

In the sap green of the tropics,
Toward the cadmium of a bitter sunrise to a new age,

At the white impossible ice hour, starving, 
Past the electric blue of the rivers melting down,

Above the nude, snuff, terra cotta, maybe fire,
Over the tiny fragile mound of finger bones

Of an Indian who died standing up, 
Through the heliotrope of a song about the sunset,

To live the thirty-six things 
& never comes home.

After the Grand Perhaps


   After vespers, after the first snow
has fallen to its squalls, after New Wave,
after the anorexics have curled
into their geometric forms,
after the man with the apparition
in his one bad eye has done red things
behind the curtain of the lid & sleeps,
after the fallout shelter in the elementary school
has been packed with tins & other tangibles,
after the barn boys have woken, startled
by foxes & fire, warm in their hay, every part
of them blithe & smooth & touchable, 
after the little vandals have tilted
toward the impossible seduction
to smash glass in the dark, getting away
with the most lethal pieces, leaving
the shards which travel most easily 
through flesh as message
on the bathroom floor, the parking lots,
the irresistible debris of the neighbor's yard
where he's been constructing all winter long.
   After the pain has become an old known 
friend, repeating itself, you can hold on to it. 
   The power of fright, I think, is as much
as magnetic heat or gravity.
   After what is boundless: wind chimes, 
fertile patches of the land,
the ochre symmetry of fields in fall,
the end of breath, the beginning
of shadow, the shadow of heat as it moves
the way the night heads west, 
I take this road to arrive at its end
where the toll taker passes the night, reading.
   I feel the cupped heat
of his left hand as he inherits
change; on the road that is not his road
anymore I belong to whatever it is 
which will happen to me.
   When I left this city I gave back
the metallic waking in the night, the signals
of barges moving coal up a slow river north, 
the movement of trains, each whistle
like a woodwind song of another age
passing, each ambulance would split a night
in two, lying in bed as a little girl,
a fear of being taken with the sirens
as they lit the neighborhood in neon, quick
as the fire as it takes fire
& our house goes up in night.
   After what is arbitrary: the hand grazing
something too sharp or fine, the word spoken
out of sleep, the buckling of the knees to cold, 
the melting of the parts to want, 
the design of the moon to cast
unfriendly light, the dazed shadow 
of the self as it follows the self,
the toll taker's sorrow
that we couldn't have been more intimate.
   Which leads me back to the land,
the old wolves which used to roam on it,
the one light left on the small far hill
where someone must be living still.
   After life there must be life.