- My Brother’s Wandering Soul, and: Paganism and the Modern Woman
My Brother’s Wandering Soul
More than three hundred thousand bodies of Vietnamese soldiershave still not been found by their families.
I fold buoyant blue paper into a boat that will deliver my light down
the Hoi An river. Spirit fish carry my lantern with hundreds more
so the hôn ma can follow these guides to Nirvana. My brother
visits me, and I witness his death
an explosion leaf-wrapped on Ho Chi Min trail.
I travel on a red shiny scooter, to and from my job in the city.
My ears are pierced three times, my nails are waxen
and long. I use these nails to shred my chest when my brother visits.
I rip my windy tomb open. The scar
tissue will not heal. Bits of bone expose themselves through my flesh. [End Page 127]
Over this, I wear an expensive red bra and silk blouse. My body is a moving grave
where we reunite. My brother’s soul gnashes
my breastbone, tears me asunder. His body is lost
in jungle heavy cover. His arms are strung in the tree limbs.
With my two lives I waltz a perfect circle, one an eyeless begging tiger,
the other floats down the Hoi An river, a pledge to the dead more than the living.
Paganism and the Modern Woman
After I gave up the bright sundresses and the jeans, bananas, and questions, and the silk, I put away the books and stood in a grey pinafore at the fence’s edge.
I used to be a noisy vehicle.
I was , the absent unknowable before.
All it takes is a blackout for our contours to beat the skin’s lazy drum. I am inside and inside the field piled with hay. [End Page 128]
In the dark, the blades of wheat are sharp. I am the grey pinafore and the old face.
A house appears, the reoccurring house from the reoccurring dirt-forged dream, at the top of a hill, overlooking the valley’s heart.
The hill overlooks my heart. I climb a ladder to the roof carpeted with giant primeval ferns. The fronds unfurl the wettest purple underside.
I crawl to the edge and look over—
Never this far before, never past the fasting phosphor horizon, past the last Venus, the last Vishnu and the tree’s sad story, past the entire rusted day until I become myself looking at myself looking over the edge at myself standing in a grey pinafore at the fence’s edge. [End Page 129]
Brittney Scott is the recipient of the Joy Harjo Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Poet Lore, Malahat Review, Water~Stone Review, and others. She is a book reviewer for the Los Angeles Review and a poetry reader for Blackbird.