Michael Neary   © 2012 All Rights Reserved

Untranslatable

I have sadness
and hunger
and hot/cold.

I have fear, too.
And lust.

To me there is
sickness
a headache
the flu.

To me there is
a newspaper
a car
a machine to sow our wheat
some money
whatever.

I, Ivan.
I, Clara.

To us there is a new baby.
We holiday.
We sport.
We go to the house of rest.

I, professor.
I, chemist.

I, female professor.
I, female chemist.

Here I grow the feminine vegetables.
I put the neutral cup on the masculine table.

Our days these days are long
and wet.
(It’s raining so hard)
            the rain is raining.
(It’s snowing so hard)
            the snow is snowing.

Today
right now
I have happiness
and vigor
and apathy
and ennui.

But maybe I also have wrong.

Some say I have nothing.
And I say, too,
like a cheer
a mantra
a song:

I have nothing
own nothing
am nothing.
 

***

Sprung


We had a baby and the baby was nice.
We could tell by its face.

“Oh, no,” we said.
This baby is going to be stepped on.
(And then when it grew older)
this big baby is going to be stepped on.

Is going to be dim
or religious
or naďve.

And what about the genes?
For we were not nice.

How did this happen?

And so we strove to toughen the baby,
to feed it the bitter things
we were forced to eat

:

contemporary art
damp cars
wet pets

cigar-colored days
and blinding white nights

asymmetrical
haircuts and clothes

practical jokes
on friends and strangers
both in person
and over the phone

:

We left it at parties
in the care of long-winded guests
who had just come back
from month-long trips.

Left it to scrape the dishes
when the bill went unpaid.

:

And we don’t know if or how
our regimen took—
have gone years without contact
in writing or voice.

We’ve no clue in whose room
near what town
on which mass
the baby lives,
smiling at strangers,
holding doors for the hungry
and the frail.

Sometimes at night we fret
but also
not so much.
We stand at the living room mantel,
our bulging joints in lock,
our greasy gray hair down,
and stare at all the photos
taken over time.

And we cross our limp, wasting arms
barely acknowledging
the telephone’s silent sound.

And we beam.

 

Mary Donnelly
Copyright © 2012  

Mary Donnelly is an LA-born, Brooklyn-based poet whose work has appeared in The Hat, Hunger Mountain, Indiana Review, and the Iowa Review, among others. She is senior editor for failbetter and teaches poetry through Gotham Writers’ Workshop.

 


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