[The Robin is the One]
The childhood I remember
has never happened,
elided as it is.
Rather than correct it, I
obscure long stretches,
bowdlerizing in particular
instances of passion in my
It’s how I can pretend away
such a common beginning,
tidy up the messy house I lived in,
home it into something
easy listening and gentle,
obliterate the walls that hid
nothing of my parents’ rages.
Erase the boys I kissed before you.
[There is a Shame of Nobleness —]
Tear down the horizon, he said, reveal it for sham.
His was the hand longed for, so I
emptied out the cabinets, row by
row, of stars, folding
each, and sorting them away.
I took a hammer to sky’s baseboard,
struggled with the earth but it wouldn’t peel back.
Allow me, I panted, just a moment longer—but he was off
seeking some other task to
harry some new suitor.
Alone, once more, I strewed the folded stars along
my bed, and laid myself among them. My
eyes adjusted to the light, but not the singing.
Only the smallest had no song, though they hummed.
For each star, a tune—requiem or pastoral— all cacophony.
No matter my protestations, they persisted,
only letting me sleep when I sang a bar back, and
between dreams petting me down with glowing hands,
lacing my hair with glow. I sang, and the bed grew very far away.
Even so I felt myself covered, a light like linens,
not weightless, but
enfolding me—and it seemed like
someone plucking at my corners, drawing me up,
someone folding me into a square, someone laying me down.
[I had some things that I called mine—]
Into the garden, crushing snails in my shell-flecked hands,
happy. All the rabbits shiver
as I pass, stand to, salute my grave
dominion; even the gate bows,
solemn in my wake. To be a god is to take
oars to land and row.
Mostly your grievance is with my step,
edging your sorrow with sorrel—but I’ve the deed
to your property, the key to your big lock.
ink your titles, and put a flag to your possessions—
no fence you stitch from eglantine can prick me out—
shaking out canticles and pollen,
touch me, then retreat,
hide their blossoms, shy their leaves.
A brute need blooms, too.
These flames that paper my
interior, like the fur that marks me monster,
cage me in this shape
and all I see, until I am little more than the
Latin caption, your name made mine.
Listen, I’m sorry for the mess I’ve made—
except that it was fun—all
done now—I’ll slip into a collar so long as your
mouth kisses the latch.
I’ll call it yours—you can
[Their Height in Heaven comforts not—]
This is the cheap pathos of Lost Dog
(has you seen my dog? Runs not good. Foams.).
Excise Lost Dog, and insert my gray hairs
in the morning (has you seem agog?
Runs unshod home.).
Heaven has a place, even for me,
excluded from the glowering host.
In my hand a flaming sward,
golf cart my chariot,
in tinny tiny key,
Heavy the sadness
each wads into his sock-balled heart—
all are wounded in
vision, X’d out
eyes, drunk or dead.
Now we are
close to the sadness
of a mockingbird waiting, its
mate snared in lime or sodden, still on gutter’s edge—
For how long, Whitman, are we to sing,
over what ocean?
Remember those gray hairs,
tenacious and wiry, that
she in the mirror grown older?
Not I. I has not seen her.
Or her dog,
trailing arabesque spume.
[The Voice that stands for Floods to me]
The bride is two part
hydrogen, one oxygen: burning and breathing, un-
very very her hair, spun ribbons
of sugar, varied her bridesmaids
carrying her train like queen’s attendants,
enduring the humiliation of
Her steps are slow
and measured to the music.
The music is
slow and measured because
the bride is an uncut blossom,
and therefore trembling
naif, inclined to the existential:
Do I do, and
so knot myself in contract?
forgetting the foregone of the caterers’ deposit.
Of a holy subject today we
roofbeam our gaze,
rah rah as the appointed holy
lets loose the vows,
O, my spouse, thy lips drop as the honeycomb (louder)
draw her down to the shore’s edge, to the waves never
the tide pulls at the sand like
orchestra, where her garment descends in one
movement like honey,
eager and slow is the sweetness.
—Rebecca Hazelton, Madison, WI