18 August 2006

Sandra Alcosser

[from Sandra Alcosser’s Except by Nature, 1998]

Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel

Obsequious. You come begging
outside my screen. Sidelong
you stare all morning.
I know that greeting.
It’s the same as mine.

You can’t make up your flimsy mind.
Do you like the world better—
distant or direct? Little Beckett
shifting chicles from one nervous cheek
to the other, will you never seek more

than safe passage? If I so much as breathe,
you convulse like water on hot grease.
Relax, no one cares about you.
If you left the territory next Friday
for good, there’d be no party.

That’s the privilege of being discreet.
You know the warm dens,
the sound of your solitary beat
against the walls,
and those strawberries

ripening under my porch,
the ones no hand can reach?
They’re yours—
deep maroon, reclusive,
they smell so sweet.

Because the Body Is Not a Weapon

In this town of date palms
and expensive pastry
everyone wears pastels.
Everyone owns a sports car
and speeds, I leap with blondes
in a gymnasium of steel leotards.
No one speaks to me.
No one catches my eye.
I eat ill-conceived
Mexican takeout—
pasty beans with
chopped beef.
In my dreams
all the creeps of my life
call me. I swear the only person
who spoke last week
had three-inch toenails
curled over his sandals.
Oh yes, and at the grocery
a little girl in coveralls
studies me when I smile.
You’re not my mother,
she kicks her thick legs
through the cart rails.
You’re    not    my    mother.
Still I pass lightly
as a dust diamond
through my pink sea cottage.
And how should I take this omen:
stalled in traffic, a van of boys
barks at me. Twelve years old,
they lick the windows.
They moon their half-formed buttocks.
They wiggle their shell-like genitals.
Do I laugh?
Have I become a foreign country?

1 comment:

  1. She's a wonderful poet and person.