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Prairie Schooner 79.4 (2005) 156-158
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Weigh the Promise, and: Cannibals & Carnivores
Weigh the PromiseThe woman in me pulls off a pink sweater
and places it in a drawer, lights
her candles, apricots spicing the air.
Part of me wants to throw this ring back, but
part of me is happy to have a diamond. Is love
sad? Part of me wants to chew the ring up
and die – part of me always wants to die, I pick this
piece of myself up all the time – mend its mittens
and kiss it on the mouth. I love its mouth –
the little beast. A doctor on the radio
said that a woman should never split herself
into halves – division has consequences. But I've [End Page 156]
quit believing the radio waves, even though
the little beast has failed to join me – tuning
in news stations for more details on every
kidnapped girl's life. Part of me is ready
to stand at the altar decorated in flowers
and kiss my lover's lips. It's like a trapeze.
We're on opposite sides, and the minister
is asking me to sail through the air and land
on my lover's perch. Do I trust myself?
The net below may swallow me like a fish,
like a flounder – caught, seared and served
on a platter. A platter is what prompted me to put
on shoes and run. I was a quick kindergartner,
not just one more girl pinned to a sink, handling
each china plate until it was dry. One time
I thought I was pinned – in a car – metal snapped
through metal to get me out. After I knew
I was going to live, I dedicated my life to me.
Here comes my lover's footsteps. The clamor
of his shoes travels in the floor – from the sidewalk,
through the front door, down the hallway to
my study. They vibrate in my ring. A physicist
might claim that this is impossible, unless
my lover travels like King Kong, his energy
swinging every object in the house. And some
would argue that because the physicist holds no love
for me that his words are closer to being true than [End Page 157]
my own mother's. I'm home. I'm home, I hear him call,
(I think I love this ring!) the little beast rolling
in her new grave as he moves through rooms to find me.
Cannibals & CarnivoresThe power of a mouth lies in what it will not eat and people don't like piranhas – not because of their exaggerated teeth, but because we fear their determination to eat even themselves. Or so the animal expert believes, standing on a riverbank – his rubber boots pressing down the grass. And so, he says, the Indian tiger is revered by the natives, of course: her spirited stripes, padded feet. And the valley dwellers do not hunt her, because she will eat their flesh, but not her sister's or her own children's. She, like us, looks at the chain the universe has her by and nods.