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 5     SUBMIT

Three Poems

Rebecca Gopoian

(in response to lines by Emily Dickinson)



You remember I asked you for it – you gave me something else –

          My body changed when you gave it to me. I made a chart of places and times. I changed four times in four months. I came at you with a sharper pencil then.
          In the afternoon there were conversations around the table. Why don’t you listen? I’m talking.
          Again, the same thing, hours later. In the evening, a warm evening, unlike the others. You were unlike the others. Tell me what did it get me, having you for a friend? What did I carry in my pocket, but a crumpled paper doll?
          Well, I never liked you. You could die in your sleep. I would cry, if it came to that. And in the morning I’d be cautious, weak-armed, careful to slip my fingers through the holes, swollen and red.
          I would enjoy the deep dark, the long way down, the far away, sleeping tunnel. The dripping. The quiet in between. Uneven rhythm of stopping.
          I gave my only answer. At the top there’s another, then another. Carry me there. Lift me in the harness I wear under my skirt. Can you imagine? A whale bone. A canvas strap. OK now lift me up in it.



And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see -


          With all the words, I let them go. I guess my mother wrote me a letter. That was years ago. But where is she now? Yes I lost my miracle worker. Listened behind the door, looked under the bed, everything under the bed, the boxes and pillows, the fireproof blanket. There were miles and miles of stairs. Can you imagine my most terrifying thing? And people used to call me lazy. I counted them. My legs became very tired on the forty-third flight.
          I let my puppy sit beside me and lick my knees, which were sore. I felt like a brand new girl. Look at my neat rows. Each stitch is a comma. You can see that. I close my eyes to feel them. My hands know what to do. So what if I don’t do anything but read the braille of my knitting sock?
          But this was all leading somewhere, and then my arms were at my sides, and there were fractions under my fingers, little bits of thread. Why turn my head when it’s all here? The sidelong glance is waiting. Let it wait.



Until the Velvet product Drop spicy to the ground -

          She turns upon a pinecone, dead and dry, very fragrant. Turns and goes inside. Her dresses drag in the dirt. The older women think she’s fine. They don’t see anything wrong.
          She sits for hours with eyes open. The place looks strange. Her thoughts split like wood. Dust flies everywhere.
          Shape of an acorn, golden hook, sticky finger. Bell. "You know best where to put it." Top branch. The oriental rug is swimming. Passing trays. Who are these people who are not allowed to eat this food?
          "Say goodnight."
       "Goodnight!"
          Creaking stairs. Father’s shoulder. Not the slightest bit tired. "Why are you crying?" Stop. Blankets float up like a sail. Sky still isn’t dark. Door clicks. The blue starts losing its glow. No moon. Shadows trimmed with black. This is a cloudless night.