Real Life Begins When You Read My Palm by Singing a Song
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
It’s not as if
you, singing so thrillingly, gesture to me
with your language,
but could you, in your trilling,
refer to me
I need a one-to-one
correspondence, need to be signified
by your signifiers.
I need “two,” as uttered by you--
speaking for yourself, as yourself--
to mean both my hands, both my lifelines.
It’s been a long life,
How hopeless is this scenario? You and I
own hope chests
in which we once-- each--
placed a feather.
Your lyrics hail them as flight feathers,
interpellate a certain shape
under our sun.
And how possible?
My feather and your feather
were once attached
to the same winged creature.
A culling of evidence
calls for gliding flight
into the hopelessly possible:
my hand and your imagined hand
collaborating to make
a dark bird shape, proof of calm.
Further proof: our flight feathers
as each others’ ghosts, commiserating
in the cool of a lately betrothed lyrical shadow.
Your song-- my mind--
finds all the twins in me,
finds all of my asymmetry.
The blessed matching trousseaus of the universe
can then emerge
from behind each kindred solar plexus,
from beyond our kindred sun.
And self-evidence becomes a music box
turned upside-inside-down-out, which is my hope-filled chest
singing along with your Top 40 hit about palmistry, which becomes, evidently,
a DIY sundial kit
made entirely of feathers.
Can the treasures in my chest fly? How fast?
Should I breathe?
I check the lyrics moving at the speed of sound-language, pushing the sun to a nadir,
then a zenith.
I check the lyrics
as though you were writing me a letter, as though I had folded and saved the letter,
as though the letter
were buried flying treasure.
Your words don’t tell the story-- yet--
of my hope chest
for this move. I didn’t need to pack
since I had never unpacked.
A life of flapping flight--
heretofore, no breaks for gliding--
facilitates the hasty and permanent storage
of that which reminds me
love is love.
Love refers to a feeling. That referent
is the feeling-destination
I may reach by following
an arrow of shadow, a lined palm:
a scolded, flapping hope,
destined for meaning.
If I have sweet missives to myself set aside,
I don’t remember.
What if I cannot bear my own kindnesses?
I would rather hear a crooning beloved
referring to me.
My lungfuls could never lift your lyrics skyward, nor could my cardboard box
ever prepare me for marriage.
Yet I hear meaning proposing marriage to language
in between your verses,
could unpack my breath any time.
The search for my inhalations
never brings more clarity than that offered by the shadow
the feather casts at noon
when the feather stands tall
and tells time
and tells time in the last verse.
In the last verse
you sing about a palm reader.
I don’t need my palm read.
I need it held.
Your song tells me,
the sundial tells me.
I was born on a Thursday.
Today is Thursday.
On Rebirth as a Palindrome: A Sullen Utopian Turns Twenty-Four/Forty-Two
I wasn’t hiding in that hospital
the morning I became
a circuit (edifice) (baby) again.
I yelled, circulated. In plain sight, I slept in a tray.
I’m a year-more built up
or torn down, cascading toward adulthood
or middle age,
constructed like a tent
under the tablecloth.
A circuit is a circuit is an edifice/baby
but the norm-seeking hordes can hope:
this circuit will be a good girl.
A woman but a girl,
keeping house in a tent
prone to cascading collapse at any time.
A girl but a woman.
I was born to be a flow, born to be connected, to grow taller, stronger.
Yet I became a resistor, a riddle:
unmarried, childless, infantilized.
No one achieves insight by studying me, though I may be
society’s illustration of how not to conduct oneself,
how not to conduct electricity.
I prevent the flow of current,
refuse to create
more humans to feed.
From the outside, this looks like spite.
Sometimes, a spiteful woman
just survives under a table, nothing fancy.
No one reaches toward me. To be fair, no one can find me.
I don’t know if I would say that I scar
as I wait for the collapse,
but there is plenty of tissue
to re-grow. A riddle-woman becomes more puzzling,
vulnerable, hungry. Her (my) body takes the brunt of the ohmic heating.
In my makeshift shelter, I become a palindrome, if slowly.
My new body reads backwards and forwards,
as old and young.
I’ll be listening to the dinner conversation
for clues about when I might make a run for it,
or when resistance to my existence
might be overcome.
I’ll be watching all the feet.
Amy Poague is an Iowa City-based poet working at a junior high school, and she holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Michigan University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Opiate (online and print versions), The Mantle, SWWIM Every Day, Mojave He[art] Review, Really System, Rockvale Review, Transom, and Helen: A Literary Magazine. She is on Twitter at @PoagueAmy.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.