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Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 120-124
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Fit, and: Reference, and: The Raw and the Canned, and: Day Lady
FitNothing does: not hips, not haunch.
Pants never slide: squeeze comfort.
Style is not. The point? Exercise
your mantras: Montgomery Wards,
Sears & Roebuck, J.C. Penny: all gods
you prayed to: spare, transfigure, shape:
go on home. The doors and windows
are dark. Prices are exacted: some way:
you outgrow them. Oh spinning wheels:
fortune, fashion: you pass (don't let)
go: you're not shaped. [End Page 120]
ReferenceYour skin is fire: the red leather you
cling to. Old man folds the paper
to his liking: he crinkles. You
shouldn't be here. This is what
it means to read: outside, a whole
world you have no right to. You
don't want it. Soft rain settles on
the houses. In one of them your
father sleeps. He wakes when you
go to bed. Ties his shoes, drags a
thermos of steam into the night.
You dream of books: you never
know what else to ask for.
Afternoons your mother opens
and closes them, bringing down
the stamp again and again, red,
she numbers them, gently. She's [End Page 121]
giving them away. Who are you
waiting for? The chair stares with
dozens of golden eyes: it will
The Raw and the CannedMother's cranberry, canned, slides a lump
from a tinny hovel. We are marked by our
encasements. Gelatinous love slicing parts
for all: delectation: my heart squishes a plate.
Texture's rot anyway, food a toy for your
winding down, your spinning and bagging
and wrapping and sleep. Thank you, I must,
thank you. Cans ratchet open, line on line:
oh my nutritive empery. Someone draws you
from a darkening shelf. Someone slapped a [End Page 122]
wing from the sky. Dress, dress, dress you
in flesh. Wear your belly to table. Eat, eat,
eat your fillings. Someone's baked a pie from
canned blackbirds, someone pries open your song.
Day Ladyfor Nina Simone (1933–2003)My rusted pipe can't hold her
tone, her gold: it's 3 AM, it's
already. Time comes. What ever
cannot cut is voice: the sheaf
that binds the scythe. I also hate
where I rise from, sometimes.
Come back. Every note blossoms:
amber: tears of waves of grain.
You have rooted my river. I [End Page 123]
pass and under. I burn, I burn
to cool you to voice and cry
to sky Paris and the sky crying
song her: would that: I did.