- UNDER THE ARC, FLYING BACKWARDS
Dragonflies splitthe weak skinbehind their heads,metamorphosefrom larval husksand emerge ravenous,thus recognizableno matter era, epoch.
1981: post-disco IHOP,Susan wants pancakes.Her head is all eyes,a ball of mirrors,and all she's eatenfor the last twelvehours is a moththat drowned in vodka.
Another mother's daughter. This girl naked in the showercalls Susan. Water off but she can't lift her head. This isn'tanyone's first life, this isn't the only life we get, but whenis a good time to say that? Not when Susan rests the girl's headagainst her shoulder, this daughter whose own mother is faraway, this girl who doesn't yet know her brain is leaking.
In every life, Susan has been attractedto shiny surfaces -- polished headstones, mirrors.Countertops, the milkshake maker
in the apartment by a park where the town planteda memorial tree for Rocky Marciano.She doesn't bleed, not red anyway. [End Page 8]
There is a fishpond, sweet flag, pickerelblue as old glass. When her lover hits her,she calls her father for a ride.
On her way out the door, she says to no one:Whatever deed he does, that he will reap.Let's eat. Let's eat. Let's eat.
Dragonflies hatch underwater.Susan mulls this at Misquamicut Beach whereshe has perfected the shoreside sponge bathsplashing water on her limbs, then drying in sun.
Considers how, in the nymph yearsyou could live anywhere -- Seattle, the Bronze Age --and resurface wet and shining into placesfull of drum beats, the smell of flesh.
Her garden's fullof darners, skimmers,dancers, one jewel-wingshe knows can't stay,and weeds --purslane, lambsquarters --anarchic as words.Dura mater, hardmother, the arachnoidmembrane, the uselessskin and fluidin all the worldsin which she's lived.
She has selective attention.Say, as a teenager at a family gatheringwhere two rooms overan aunt whispers: Susan's gained weight,or on the crowded dance floor [End Page 9] (no matter where you say ityou know that you'll be heard)when she wants to be left to danceand a man watches herthinking he is safe in the swarm.
Also very handy: Serrated mandibles.
2018 Susan lives beside a baseball diamond.Bats crack. Lights buzz. During Feast Weekfor the Virgin, fireworks pop and glitter.Out of prayers, she's spent the morningmaking Jello shots, iridescent, lethal.You only live once. Wink. Corn hole. Hot tub.Come egglayers, revelers, the uninitiated,the unhealable, the, as yet, immaculate.
However, say you are an old boyfriendor a trilobite on a steady trend towards extinction.
You live in a mountain building era.You live in an apartment beside a park.
Say all of that is true, and you've livedfor 300 million years.
You're feeling the kind of confidence an organism achievesin conjunction with the development of extreme spinosity.
Until a lustrous-headed something flies over your ocean, [End Page 10] casts shadow veins on your armor.
Let some say she weighs souls for the devil. Let others overhear it.Her father ferries souls to the next world. So she knows: there's always work to be done.Once in this life, she allowed herself to be saved. She might have driven herself home.But she has confirmed: We never have to be alone. Not here or anytime else.Also, only one thing truly dies: Shame. Except in its creator.
Susan is part of an ancient group,Mesopotamia, Indus Valley,Celtic Druids, pre-Socratics.She drives her silver car downInterstate 95, lane-changer,quick-thinker. 300million years of travelingbut she arrives in timefor the decision, her eyesmultifaceted over the othermother's daughter, the dyingmosaic of a girl. Susan holdsthe mother's hand, but what useis it to admit everythingSusan knows about history...