- The Ariadne Year
When I sleep,I don't dream of Theseus,I dream of my father's copper headextended over a jury,books piled high—heavy as eyelids,flaps clamped shut.I dream the scentof my mother's lipstickhas come back to haunt me—like an oil pastelmarkingmy dreary, dramatic heart.There's my bedroom now: the child-meunreleased from the staircaseof history's incredible spine.Theseus? What a joke.A pawn, a plaything,a custom doll.I touch his soft hair.I tell him things, expectinghe won't talk back,but he is talking,he is always talking,he is talking only of himself,he is saying there's no wayI'm ready for this kind of christening. [End Page 149]
Melancholy is sleeping hardwith one arm over her head,the othertucked under her neck,expecting someone will notice.She is a monastery—her great arches sound outwith every footstep.We know you're not real,chant the men,sliding their glovesinto their pockets.The flowers they never leftwere the color of persimmonsor the medieval heartof the Virgin Mary.Now that the kind nun is gone(she was teaching meto sight read, to smileat strangers in the street),I pretend to play the pianolike a virtuosoin my stained nightshirt,estimating the minor noteswill hold the most attention,but it's the major notesI play when no one is watching.They sound better than they did before. [End Page 150]
O men,your useless pink smilesfloat like the aura of a migraineon this weekend afternoon.Let us not get coffee.Let us not sit so close to each otherthat we can't tell which thoughtsare truly private. I am tiredof undressing to no comment,years and years of youthwasted to the particles in the air.I take backwhat I said—come herewith your unplaceable frustration,let me add it to my calendarof knife-like headaches,let me kiss you if I wantfor months at a time. [End Page 151]
What happenswhen you have a namethat's so distinct,men turn to youand repeat it,try to make it soundas clean as it sounds to them?A name they can't forgeteven if they wanted to,even if their ship meals turn sourand the ocean hits hard, leaving a bruise.They could forget your hair, your face,the smell of your skin, but notyour name that returnseven as they let it go.Her bed is an island,her dreams are a breakthrough,each vessel finds the pia mater,sends her to the beachto collect their driftwood. Burn it.This is how they will find you. [End Page 152]
Analicia Sotelo is the author of the chapbook Nonstop Godhead, selected by Rigoberto González and published by the Poetry Society of America in 2016. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, Antioch Review, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. The 2016 Disquiet International Literary Prize winner in Poetry, she is the recipient of scholarships from Squaw Valley and Image Text Ithaca. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston.