from Life in a Box is a Pretty Life

Lake, interminable. I do not know where my house is. Where is my house? Summer steams by. Every border is cocked and ready. Flatten body against cool earth. Lie without sound. Be a cool corpse under wire teeth. The police are so young. They do not hear the wailing. Wailing, I’m told, is a figment of your imagination. What to know of the body’s refusal to open, of its hidden cave? Put the cave inside another cave so no one can reach it. Perspiration aches. Strain against dirt walls. I have come to you from a metal house. We had steel barriers to protect us from the sun. The lake drifts into forever. Windows here are small and I cannot see myself in them. What it is to be captured without spoons. 

More by Dawn Lundy Martin

Disciplines [If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling]

If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling, hands folded to a private sign. We recognize it. If there is a mother kneeling, hands a tent, she is praying or she is crying or crying and praying at the same time. Although it is recognized, the signals of it, it is private and no one knows, perhaps not even she, the content of the prayer, and perhaps its object. If there is a mother praying, she is on her kneels over some object, as one does not often pray in the middle of the room. One prays at the window or over the bed, the head bent slightly up or down, the eyes open or closed. This is a prayer for prayers, you know, a wanting something equal to a prayer, even though I am not a mother.

Disciplines [This is how much fortuitiveness weighs]

This is how much fortuitiveness weighs. Measure in dirt. Of vices and other habits. Of leaving a house at 3 am and drawn as would any tether and here is your lock, my dear. I want to say this plainly: it is only when I am in a woman’s arms that my body is not a threat. Neither crosses nor damnation. Fix nor flutter. Hangs here, this balance, and one opens the car door and drives along the river where it said a crossing might happen. Had happened. Many times. Sticklers will say, not here. There are no crossings here. But, there the I is, reflection and delivered, on the other side. Like hams, I think,
holding on to what was.

Disciplines [Near adust. Caves. Closings]

Near adust. Caves. Closings. Relentlessly the body leaves the bed. Does things. A day is merry and eager for prosperity. It dings dings the bell in its own head. The ritual of masking the breasts in heavy fabric, of covering the legs and feet. A face from the mirror says, I am pretty, I am pretty. Skin of opening, meant for opening. A sex in training. Trimmed, fastidious. Damp reasoning. Yet, adherence. Mask the breasts. Mark the skin. You are not from here, are you? Part tissue. What does it feel like? It feels like everything else. It must be different from some other thing. No. This is what a woman's body is. An effort in covering or not covering. A way toward exits.