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Descent by Rope
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If a throne is an angel of the seventh-highest order out of nine possible heights, and you suffer vertigo,

will you be satisfied being a bottom floor angel? Bargain basement, Everything’s-On-Sale angel?

The South American woman at the gym whose sweatpants have the word Angel stenciled vertically down the leg

will not look me in the eye and is almost always breaking the no-cell-phone rule, talking so heatedly, a la Latina,

while on the rowing machine. In the locker room I am a voyeur watching her blow-dry her hair, even in summer, when the sun

would do the same without injury. Her hair as thin as a queen ant’s wing which unfastens the instant she mates. I told you last

night that it is ironic that I have seen more women’s breasts than you. I recently laid my eyes on the prototype adolescent Eve–

the most beauteous body I have ever seen coming out of a public shower. A body that illuminated more than any library of books or cave of

echolocating microbats or remnants of chandeliers. And understood for the first time the concupiscence of the old for the young.

And just as it is well past the era of electrocuting communists, it is well past the era of seeing the snake as penis or messenger-boy

of the devil. The new symbology of the snake is exemplified in the new creed of the three R’s: The rinds of limes under a pillow, a bottle of Rogaine,

and the unharnessed rappelling down the ravine without a reality show there to film you. The willing, non-oppositional, come-to-me mama dying [End Page 60]

and then the ingesting of your own death, as if death were a carton of dyed ostrich eggs or a fanny-pack full of trail mix that will get you

up and over the mountain pass, even in the snow, with Nazis chasing you. And at the fin de siècle, after crossing the border, you are reunited with

your soul mate or your first childhood pet. And for the lucky, the two are one in the same. You wed soon after your frostbite heals,

but before a background check is run on you. And for the lucky, your betrothed doesn’t care you were a stripper

and that most of your best work was scribed in that era when you were saturated with libations and libertine slogans

and sale underwear. And lead in the boots of the messengers in the form of Revolutionary War musket balls to keep them

closer to the saltgrass, to the humidity of ants and resurfacing crushed beer cans. Look at the folded latticed wing of a hibernating angel, just

now unhinging its eyes, rising through the air like caustic powdered sugar in the bakery warm from the bread ovens. And though there are

new forbidden fruits, and new machinery replacing red wheelbarrows— the truck drivers are still pulling off the road to sleep. [End Page 61]

Joanne Dominique Dwyer

Joanne Dominique Dwyer’s first collection of poems, Belle Laide, has recently been published by Sarabande Books (2013). Dwyer reads and writes poems with residents of assisted living facilities who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease; she lives in northern New Mexico with her partner, seven sheep, a wolf-dog, and a hive of bees.

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