Always I have wanted to be
one of those women
who curse in transatlantic accents.
Who win or lose at dice.
Who eat casserole and touch
These women write the kinds of books
I tend to read, full
of perspicacious naming.
Who ulcerate at book events.
Who share with their cats
bright tins of herring.
Who offend the doorman and postman
and most men and many women.
What do you mean, perverse?
What do you mean, beyond the pale?
They write terrible characters
on whom they never pass judgment,
characters who do the world
no particular good
with their pocketbooks full of hard pears.
They keep cured meats in the pantry
with the Nexiclon.
The women marry or don’t.
The women have skillful editors
who understand their readership
of women like me,
who ate candles as a child.
Who gets aroused in Macy’s lingerie.
Who is so literal-minded sometimes
she wants to remove
her literal mind
and spend the night without it,
playing rummy with the ornery,
the willing, and the strange.
Oizys, Goddess of Anxiety
All winter the wind is an animal,
pawing at my nape. Then the wind
is a melted drug. I wear my dread
in every weather, believing worry
can prevent the worst from happening—
stay where you are, it whispers
to the glue that sticks the houses
to the earth. I fret religiously. I lease
my life to fear. Sometimes images
bloom behind my eyes like music,
terrible images. I’ll leap above my self
and watch it do something extreme
in the conditional—the self
crumpling like a kite or dissolving
into panicles of ash. Oh,
I have always had rituals. I count
the bricks in multiples of three. In threes
I clicked my milk-teeth till they fell
like heirloom seeds across the grass. Some
days I am a woman with a beautiful face
and a body like a knotted bag; other days
I’m all body and the bag is my face.
One night, in the grips of this, I saw
myself in a great hall with a gleaming
sheet of water for a floor. From
overhead I watched my body glide
across its surface like some kind
of incredible swan. When I pumped
my wings and stretched out my neck
the panic wafted off of me like steam—
and where there’d been a hide
were many feathers, and where
there’d been a gyre was a mind.
Lines En Route to Pennsylvania
The snow is particle and wave
On Highway 80
Drawing long lines
Across the windshield with its flakes
I’m driving away from New York
And my lover who
Beneath her giant eyelids is asleep
When I left
I pressed into her fist
A wad of woolen blanket
To replace my hand
And dialed up the thermostat
And stepped into the still-black air
Like a child in winter
Traveling to school