Poems from Mother Earth 24-27
Sandra, she says her name is, tipping her
blackened head onto his chest, wracked as
it is by coughs. He introduces himself as
Ronnie, who lives on the island with his
big sister. She happens to be pregnant and
is humoring him here at Manny’s. Heads
leaned close, she tells him she’s got a boy
friend, but they happen to be fighting, she’s
out on her own (an errant lamb, in his mind).
Exquisite tensions force his hands to smooth
down her back, anchors sinking to plant
themselves someplace solid. Sandra doesn’t
want to kneel, touch, kiss; just this little
grab in autumn’s wasted chill is enough.
Ronnie is nearing the end of his rope. As he lays
in bed with Jess, he aches to hold Sandra ever so
much closer. Would conceiving another child (as
Jess’s remains unborn) be against any laws? Jess,
of course, not only knows what Ronnie thinks
(she had snuck behind the dumpster to monitor
his progress, Diet Coke still in hand, as though
watching a particularly juicy brawl in which her
big male antagonist was getting throttled), she
knows there will be Sandra, then another, then
another, but until the man learns to earn his
own living he will come home to roost with
her. There: a vicious thought he deserves.
All she vetoes is an exchange with sperm.
Jess’s ascension; she rises, both quick and dead, over this many times
(and many ways) bespattered bed, into a scene of youth; utopic suburbs,
bikes with bells, how trees looked in May with not much school left.
Succession of images; diasporas of life, miniaturized, in many directions.
She liked church, then; thrills of new words, “benediction,” “annunciation,”
“absolution,” and in her streams upwards she responds to a whim that
God is more preoccupied with minutiae than many think. God in candy
hearts, suck-rings, bags of midnight-snuck potato chips, and she hears
what God thinks of this (perverse humor of an imp?), hears herself hearing
(thirty years later) and passes swift, merciful judgment on all things
unborn, liminal, or born. Pregnant women, she has heard, are plugged into
the universe; a cascade of white/blue lights descends. Jess flies, over
putrid stagnant Hudson, absence of twin towers, corrugated Chrysler
building, and this is deep, permanent, blessed with air and fire scars.
Then appeared the angel: not delicate and feline, but raw, rough, determined.
She presents familiar scenes to Jess, demands answers. Jess is in a weatherless
place, sparked with stars. She starts thus: I know the lies that ride high and
roughshod over my existence. That I have looked at many surfaces while motives
remained hidden, and believed them; that I have willfully lied to create, maintain,
and retrospectively preserve appearances; that I have contrived to fix things not
meant to be fixed in eternal patterns; all this I know. But this is all held
within the confines of a dream; I will wake up unawares, carrying a circular
burden, determined to efface (without being conscious) these lessons. I want to
know how these things may be carried across; why I am subjected to the torment
of deep truth and abasement. Here, the scene changes; another panorama; Jess
tosses within a sense of flailing over Fifth Ave., vacated and loosed from concrete
forms. Now she is wrapped, uncomfortably swaddled; now she jerks up in bed to
hear Ronnie’s snores, comfortably folded back into short wheezes. What’s next?
Adam Fieled is a poet based in Philadelphia. He has released three print books: "Opera Bufa" (Otoliths, 2007), "When You Bit..." (Otoliths, 2008), and "Chimes" (Blazevox, 2009), as well as numerous chaps, e-chaps, and e-books, including “Posit” (Dusie Press, 2007), “Beams” (Blazevox, 2007), and “The White Album” (ungovernable press, 2009). He has work in journals like Tears in the Fence, Great Works, Listenlight, Otoliths, PennSound, The Argotist, Upstairs at Duroc, Jacket, and in the &Now Anthology from Lake Forest College Press. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he also holds an MFA from New England College and an MA from Temple University, where he is completing his PhD.