Eric Elshtain

American Dwellings
New Poems From the USA



               They peel off half her face but her face like hennaed hands traced beneath
               henna is fixed in the rust of the cyclone shed, the bounce of a bee in there
               with the old metal & a single antler white as a collection of moons & bad-
               luck. I hold her face. It’s a fire education,   red as an adoration. Yes,  my
               dervishes,   these   are   the abilities   you issued from.   It is always   two
               directions,   see what   I’ve gotten   from you an atmosphere wincing with
               every   passing particle   major crush injuries corroding cattle their milk as
               blue as mushroom stems   pinched by your time-warped mother I should
               have spent more time with her eyes then you, my dears, might have gotten
               them.   You look   like everything. My loss. My lunar wholeness. The hiss
               of small tornadoes. A   pool that magnifies   what falls into   it. That sweet
               ochre creek your mother loved more than me.


               You cannot stay   archaic here   I promise: your robes are all wrong,   there
               are too many  rules   to follow: one notion at a time,   one scattering of bone
               per mate,   one   chimera   of history per complaint.   & every last compliant
               beast is asking “Is that Mars?”   “Is that a deer?” You’d better prepare   for
               my being your mother.   I’m   no rain mistake; you have the same   peninsula
               condition. I’m always the  one  who must  imitate   our lionlessness when the
               king   orders gravity.   I’m the   one bent on Magnum Bonum City.   I mean,
               the rooms are parrots waiting to be   unlikely—you’ll see,   you’ll release the
               copper lizards   they  only dream of here.   & yes,   your father set fires,  but
               come,   you are   the product of our nightly seances, the sum of our freedom
               to be thieves, deducting us home, giving us a way through our ice age.


               A leaping tongue, something fragile about her I buy medicine,   scream to
               feel the sky; it’s going to be the devil,   that was the idea: factory, bathtub,
               light switch, needle make one strong thing—I feel lovely, no, just cut off a
               little; speak with a people’s mouth: He wants to marry you, to sing, to dry
               himself, to   row lovers walking in the shadow of Lucretius
.   The jury said
                we didn’t. The atom first split putting off stars,   self-respect in outposts is
               the matter   with him,   an ancient dust.   Come if you’re coming,  pharaoh,
               who did see that column of hers?   Did you have a fever?   Some previous
               bird—?   She’ll believe it if you worm.   O,   the slimy inhibitions.   A  few
               more days of hearing you crack them.