Margeaux Walter © 2012 All Rights Reserved
After Charles Fort in his book Wild Talents
She looked like some hand had reached inside her and boned her down to the dowels of a wooden birdcage almost straws. Her breasts, with as much tent to them as rose petals, barely rose and fell. I have seen more life in a dress hung on the wash line. Whomever she saw in the wall behind us had exhausted her and she refused our questions like our spoonfuls of broth. We kept looking at that wall, which was no lamp show, hardly the cause for her fixed eyes, nothing but vireos and olive leaves, the flutter of soft coal gas light that did have this hiss. No one saw who cut her braid in broad daylight, in the crowd. None heard the hobnailed steps walking sharply away like striking flints. No one smelled the onion breath. The grating of the rusted scissors she proved with her fingers as she tried to bite through the doctor’s watch chain. She pulled the tatting around her collar to show she still felt blood. She did talk, but only of the dog that stood up like a man on its hind legs, pulling the end of its rope. (“Something you would not even pay to see,” I said by way of comfort.) The longer it barked, the more directions it wore into the dirt around the stake, showing her which way to set off, which way her drifter went.
1. An Abandoned Girl Scout Camp
Like a dig, I thought,
Grid the site with string before disturbing it,
Matting down the long grass with my boots,
Show where they slept and how
Tents made the horns of the moon,
Stamp every path between them,
Map the entire clearing running with Buster Browns
Up to the standing reminder,
A pole flying the earring of an eyebolt,
The rusted pulley down which the flag of then would be run,
Like the country had surrendered at so many stars for their ribbons,
Their crêpe paper streamers hoisted for their winding game
Up the length and coming together.
2. Kees Lake
I found it—
The north end is Camp Hedvah for Girls
To cover one after the other,
To make you young again.
I found it a crow’s mile south,
On this broken paved spur of Muhlig Road off 55,
The Neversink highway,
Which sounds like a fat clue.
I breathe the balm smell of summer weeds and pines.
Here the lake shallows back to its real marsh self.
It’s July, the next day.
I wait by the car wondering what I can use for a towel.
—Sullivan County, N.Y., 19 July 2006
James Reidel will be the resident poet at the James Merrill House in Stonington, Conn., beginning January 2013. Earlier this year, his revised translations of Franz Werfel’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh and Werfel’s novella Pale Blue Ink in a Lady’s Hand were published by Godine. He is currently preparing a new book of poems for publication.
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