. . . This place was shown to be very like the last time. A piece was not exchanged, not a bit of it, a piece was left over. The rest was mismanaged—Gertrude Stein, "A Frightful Release" (1914)
Victorian, how you fall like waterfor gravity and anything else that pulls you down,claiming chaos—your natural state.In Steinese, a dam is a dam is a dam. But is it? Am I?
You descend in angry fluvials—blind rapidsdetermined to find entrance to pumice-greystones devoid of all mortal sensations; the rocks you choose:of Gibraltar, of Ages, Stonehenge, any, any, any
hobby-store quartz or common fossilized stone. Smashed-facedwater sprites skim your surface then clinglike white-knuckled vines suckered to your back—a tighteddying habit. You have no desire. You kick, bite, scratch,
fight as you course through my fingers stretched wide as floodgates,enraged that I make no effort to catch you. I will not, I shall not.As minnows dart between my toes, I strip to midwaist and diveaway, exposing more of myself than you can bear. [End Page 236]
A native of Mississippi, R. Flowers Rivera received her Ph.D. at Binghamton University and her M.A. at Hollins University. Her short story, "The Iron Bars," won the 1999 Peregrine Prize. She has been a finalist for the May Swenson Award, the Journal Intro Award, the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, the Gary Snyder Memorial Award, the Paumanok Award, as well as garnering nominations for Pushcarts. Currently, she is a lecturer of literature and composition at the Center for American Education in Singapore.