- Porcupine, and: Mnemosyne's Mausoleum
You think we are the pointed argument,the man drunk at the party showing off his gun collection,the bed of nettles.
What we really are is hidden from you:girl weeping in the closet among her stepfather's boots;tuft of rabbit fur caught in barbed wire; body of the babyin the landfill; boy with the shy mouth playing his guitarat the picnic table, out in the dirt yard.
We slide into this world benign and pliable,quills pressed down smooth over back and tail.Only one hour here stiffens the barbs into thousandsof quick retorts. Everything this well-guardedremembers being soft once.
Tobacco smell and the taste of buttered parsnipsare stored in far-flung coffins in the brain,a catacomb of sensory descriptionsthat the tiniest encounter disinters.They all lie down together, and if left unstirredby mice, or brush of garment whooshing by,the sense of steamy water on bare skincan mix with coyotes waking up the night. [End Page 135] The crossover of memory, forming newexperiences that never really werecan make a bookstore lush with trumpet vine,or layer frozen windows in the carwith licorice, or mango, on the tongue.The hybrid of this intermingled storagecan trick the ear that thinks it hears a train,make it think instead of the underwater languageof blue whales, or babies crying in their beds.We've pressed our rich collectioninto such slim space. If the shine of coreopsisis now blocked by blankets on the line, or drive-in moviescreens, it means the world we travel backward throughhas a deeper depth of field than when we came. [End Page 136]
Kelly Madigan Erlandson's poems and essays have appeared in Crazyhorse, Barrow Street, Smartish Pace, The Massachusetts Review, and 32 Poems. She has been a writer in residence at Jentel Artist Residency Program, and KHN Center for the Arts. In 2006, she was awarded the Distinguished Artist Award in Literature from the Nebraska Arts Council. She is the author of the how-to book, Getting Sober (McGraw-Hill, 2007).