Two Minus One

for Maple

She called to say she lost it. She wasn't pregnant long enough for the leaves to go crisp, toasted almost brown. They were still gold, still burning themselves orange. I don't understand I said out loud & between the joints in my fingers. We should call the police, file a missing person's report. I'll put flyers around the block. I'll find her.. I have a flashlight, canned food that'll last for months, a backpack that straps around my waist. I have beard stubble. My eyesight has been perfect since birth, so spread open—I'll climb inside. In the nighttime, they keep the lights on at cemeteries so the dead can find their beds again. Some things stay too small ever to be buried. I've got the police on speed dial, but how do you pick out your embryo? It was there just hours ago. They put jelly below her stomach. There was an agreement that something was inside her: ghosts shaped as shipwrecks barely moving. Leaving nature we still keep it. My favorite part of the future would have been my daughter's ears studded like the buds of chrysanthemums. I couldn't pick out a linden tree in a police lineup, if the lineup went linden tree, parachute, Boy George, maple tree, orange grove—so how would I pick out my embryo in a lineup that went embryo, embryo, polar bear, embryo, winter? What did your embryo look like? Like the cover of a book no one would read. Like gleaming.

French Kissing

What is there left to do during a truce, but look at boys
swinging swords at the trunks of trees?
You reach into the sky & pull down a phonograph,
& we listen to the helium in the stars. Your hands
are clean air & that’s worth repeating, but the clouds
are mad. What more than dissatisfied nature,
the lakes rise to the sky, only to fall back down.
Everything not the same, but still, everything.
Jehanne, warmed by skin & thunder. Please stay.
People love & it’s good. I’ve always said to the going,
it is better to gaze at the ground than to find
yourself buried beneath it. Rouen in a dream
I’ll never have. Or, to purify the Seine, to growl like a lion,
to cough angrily into the wind. Jesus, may we all die
the same? I said His name too, I said it
in a morning not yet sung.


About this poem:
"I was watching The Passion of Joan of Arc in a graduate medieval piety course, and I fell in love with Joan's eyes (or at least the actress that played Joan). I thought, I should save her. So here I am writing poems for Joan of Arc until she comes back to life and promises to never leave again."

Gregory Sherl


Related Poems

Miss Congeniality

Even as an embryo, she made room for "the other guy." Slick and 
bloody, she emerged quietly: Why spoil the doctor's best moment? 
When Dad ran over her tricycle, she smiled, and when Mom drowned 
her kittens, she curtsied, a Swiss statuette. Her teachers liked the way 
she sat at her desk, composed as yesterday's news. In high school she 
decorated her locker with heart-shaped doilies and only went so far, a 
cartoon kiss at the door. She read the classics, The Glamorous Dolly 
Madison, and dreamed of marrying the boy in the choir whose voice 
never changed. Wedding photos reveal a waterfall where her face 
should be. Her husband admired how she bound her feet to buff the 
linoleum. When she got old, she remembered to say pardon to the 
children she no longer recognized, smiling sons and daughters who sat 
at her bedside watching her fade to a wink.