Poetry, Things I Can

93. Things I Can Draw on Here: The Hidden Exposure

Life is a Dance in the Rain III (Adrian Borda)
Life is a Dance in the Rain III (Adrian Borda)

He stands peering through glasses backwards
into a recitation of facts we lack the questions
to question, a row of chairs, linoleum
squares, a windowless room and young
scholars slumped in the corridor. I watch
a groundhog settle on his shoulder.
It watches the waters
rise around us, ankle then hip then neck
then gills as pressure threatens
to squeeze us into the jelly
that already comprises
him, oozes from the threads
of the screws in his spectacles
first then from the brass button
at his navel. Imperfect seals
it turns out. 

He is bitter blue, he is thin
as milk. His skull splits and skin
curls back, the bruise black spray
surges up and arcs across the dying
fluorescent light and spells
The Fathers Will Feed Last
Those Who Speak First

and from the words that slide
melting into joints and drywall
begins the hum of a song

Kicking off the suede sole
of his boot she is free
to empty herself
into a place of trap
doors, a floor above
the hollow ceiling.
She hears the keening
from deep under what she wants
to believe is solid,
we all do — want it
and hear it too —
a creaking howl that gives
way Oh how you start
to rock Oh how you claw
for ledge or nail
even if you grate your skin
raw in the staying Oh
how you resist
the fall

He slices his grappling hook
across the throbbing
ink and slams it through
the meat of her palm
and damn the pain
she reaches
up and carves into the wall
of her own silent throat
I belong
I choose

I wrote this on my metro ride home today in response to a question that Manoush Zomorodi asks at the end of a recent episode of Note to Self: “How do you get into a creative mindset? I mean seriously, do you do word associations? Are you rummaging through your kids’ lego bins?”

The question dredged up from the buried place a game I used to play. It was a trick for coloring in the brief dead zones in my workday before all the demands there fused into a single ravenous beast that devours everything it encounters (including me). It used to be that during long presentations or while waiting on the metro platform, I would “draw” on the canvas in front of me with my imagination. Like word associations, but image associations.

A professor throws off her coat and beneath (gasp!) she shimmies in flapper gems and tassles. The classroom walls fall away and here we stand in the gas-lit, glass-rimmed dining car of The Orient Express. A student flashes awake wearing spats and a top hat, pivots across the aisle, and sweeps up his partner in a swirl of Fred Astaire footwork. Then the room bursts into a full staged production of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

This is the sort of fun a girl can have when she pulls out her purple crayon.

For when the color runs dry, Note to Self also offers the Bored and Brilliant series of challenges, inviting listeners to engage in small creative daily activities.

2 thoughts on “93. Things I Can Draw on Here: The Hidden Exposure”

  1. the idea that we are all potentially brilliant was kind of obscene in the way that Oprah can be (plus in this case the dreaded startup/app cults of selfie-ness) but here you have given this a delightful twist going to show (at least for me) that you never know how something might get put to use (bricolaged if you will)
    plus a harold reference to boot, bravo smirkster well done.

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