Costel Iarca © 2008 All Rights Reserved
Because these streets are impassable
for ordinary travelers, we must buckle down
and hire the sherpas who carry diamond mines
and telescopes on their backs, gargantuan weight
of idiosyncrasies, considered luxuries, and precious.
Remember those men who once lived among us.
So tough they were, their women wore beards.
Eventually, the ancient paper cuts healed,
and wherever they didnít, symptoms of decay
stood out plainly as a daisy in May.
Itís always been about cuts that wonít heal.
Serums. Antitoxins. Germs astride
the gridlines of wilderness
and city, unweeded thorns
creeping into the nuptial bedó
a leering skeleton atop the bride.
To your health! To your health!
óafter Matisseís painting, 1911
My grandmother loved costumes;
would have loved to stand against a cerulean wall like that one,
lilacs painted across it,
adjusting her bodice, her skirt,
her manilla shawl like some Gypsy duenna.
She was not
a real Gypsy
but perhaps more one
because of this.
Isnít this how a face becomes a triangle,
or a kind of spatula for peeling eggs from a skillet? A face
becomes a swatch of color, seen
the way a man might look sidelong to catch
some woman undoing two more buttons of her blouse.
Like us, lace
is identified by its nation of origin,
and the hand of the woman who spun it from
Peering with the concentration of a dull ache,
looking down the empty spaces between houses,
I always knew what to expect
on those dreary walks home from school, nothing
had happened to me yet, except the leashes
of dark dogs barking up
from houses that kept lights on
an endless tether. I,
made up of nothing yet,
except a few phrases spoken by my mother, spoken by my grandmother,
and the silence spoken by my father.
But I loved books,
though their shining pages
were not my grandmotherís idea of good mirrors:
too dull, they failed to instill enough
vanity. I crept inside them anyway, like a lit room
wombed within a dark house,
knowing those pages were knives
upon whom only the very rash
ever cuts himself.
Justin Vicariís chapbook, Siamese Twins of the 21st Century is forthcoming this year. He is translator of Woman Bathing Light to Dark: Prose Poems by Paul Eluard, and has won awards from Third Coast, New Millennium Writings, and Plan B Press. His work has appeared in many journals.
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