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Expulsion, and: Morgellons Syndrome, and: Amplitude, and: Coming of Age

From: Tampa Review
45/46, 2013
pp. 38-41

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:


After we argued, I stood in the kitchen.
Not comforted but washing the dishes

off to one side while he sorted the mail.
Like the convent's rituals, which occupy

the body in case faith comes or trick the spirit
so it can open to faith. In Masaccio's Expulsion,

Eve pauses just outside Eden's gates, hands
half covering her nakedness, her upraised face

a blur of rage or grief while Adam in his misery
doesn't notice. Night after night of inattention,

we cast ourselves out so far from where love was
till we didn't know how to get back. Sometimes

we grew afraid or curious and peered
toward where we thought love was

nearby, intact, like a dog sent out
who lingers near the door. Soon, we thought,

we'd call or reach out to try to touch its flanks
or open our arms to it. Except we knew

we'd made that story up to hide our need
to keep proving we didn't deserve, either of us,

to be loved by the other. And all we could do
to console each other for that knowledge

was stand together in the same room
without speaking or touching.

Morgellons Syndrome

The afflicted body itches, then one's fingers must pull out

the series of narrow fibers
lodged in the skin

to be saved in a small container, a matchbox maybe

evidence of the frailty of all defenses, emblem
of the need to join
with other sufferers
though the doctors deny it

or else Morgellons is delusional parasitosis, transmitted
by Internet, an obsessional
aversion to permeability or touch

though from the body's leavings
one can always devise
a system, rationale

locate a proper name

despite the lag, the infelicity

as in simultaneous translation
the errors are perceptible only
to those who speak both languages.


A year later when I sat on my mother's chair
and put my arms where hers had lain, the ugly,

brownish irises she transplanted from my old garden
were unfolding again. Like winter peaches, peach colored,

smelling of peach but mealy and dry. Better to hold one
in the supermarket and stop there. Better to have known

she would die soon, though in fact I did. In the desert
the amplitude of their flat leaves protects some plants.

They twist till they're perpendicular to the sun,
too thin to be burned. I made myself not see

like a character on reality TV whose avarice
or hurt preserves her, an evasion so extreme

that, watching, we're repelled and grateful
at all the terrible things that haven't happened yet.

The quiet in her room disguised my sadness
or covered or allowed it. She had sewn patches over

the torn spots, and I touched them, the black thread,
the little holes her needle had made.

Coming of Age

As in all families, someone is sick.

The older daughter won't apologize.
All she wants is to be touched, to have been touched
so she can abandon her principles.

The frog in school had layers of skin
each of which had to be pulled back
and pinned to the wax,
and inside all the organs were arranged
as in the textbook.

Because her mother is suffering, waiting again
for that phone call
she goes to her room and tries to chip off
something from herself.

And then sometimes
the fog is beautiful

and a singing is heard from the bench on the hill

and it is easy to wander around barefoot, studying
a piece of stone, meadow, uninjured moth, pattern of light

then go inside
and try to write about it.

Ann Keniston  

Ann Keniston teaches American poetry and creative writing at the University of Nevada. Her first collection of poems, The Caution of Human Gestures, was published in 2006 by David Robert Books. Recent poems have been published in Interim, New Ohio Review, and Antioch Review.

Copyright © 2013 University of Tampa Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Ann Keniston. "Expulsion, and: Morgellons Syndrome, and: Amplitude, and: Coming of Age." Tampa Review 45.1 (2013): 38-41. Project MUSE. Web. 7 Aug. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu...

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