Trash [is a terrible metaphor …]

is a terrible metaphor, for poetics, for women’s bodies, for the street I lived on as a child. Smashed cigarette. Ripped surgical mask. Dropped piece of bread. At the edge of JFK Memorial Parkway, once the tree-lined Morris Canal, I drench my fingers in sanitizer after touching no one and think of Andre Breton’s Nadja, book I read in Visionary Fictions class in college, how the male narrator walked Boulevard Bon Nouvelle all night. How he met the young woman for whom the book is titled. How he said: She is so pure, so free of any earthly tie, and cares so little, but so marvelously, for life. The parkway clotted with ice, cars clumsy bodies driving too fast. I remember the boy who did not want to drop me off because he said my neighborhood was dangerous. Empty can of peaches. Plastic glove. How Nadja said: I am the thought on the bath in the room without mirrors. How I stupidly wanted someone to love me like this. To misapprehend. To misread. How I once wanted to stay secret. Now: the opposite—a room with all the mirrors, blazing with light, devoid of all metaphor. What does it mean to care for life? Hope keeps you wanting, I read somewhere on-line late one night. Yet I search out the scattershot.

Copyright © 2021 by Nicole Cooley. This poem was first printed in Tupelo Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 25 (Winter 2021). Used with the permission of the author.