11 September 2012

Cate Marvin

[from Cate Marvin's Fragment of the Head of a Queen, Sarabande, 2007]

Landscape with Hungry Girls

There’s blood here. The skyline teethes the clouds
raw and rain’s course streams a million umbilical
cords down windows and walls. Everything gnaws,
and the pink polish on their girl-nails chips, flakes
off as they continue to dig through towering heaps
of refuse. It’s a story, as usual. As usual, a phone
and dead silence. Or the phone: a lobster to the ear.
Girls resigned to being girls. The softer faces they
find in the mirrors. The limp shake, a hand placed,
a flower wilting moist on the man’s palm. Or hard
handshakes deemed “aggressive”: snakes. O, girls.
All of them carefully watching carefully the faces
of their sleeping men, even when their own faces
are more beautiful in their watching, and if only they’d
watch their own faces beneath the revolving lights
sliding between the blinds: they are blinded from
watching their men sleep so dumbly. The headaches,
the insistent grip of a gnawing stomach, eating itself.
Thinking hunger is strength, how hurt they are, girls
picking at food on their plates. I like a girl who eats.
Careful, what you say you want. The moon is distant,
yet cousin to her face: our genders worse than alien.
Bleeding is something everyone does. You don’t call.
Girls snack on skyscrapers, girls gut their teddy bears,
and girls saw their own faces off. What is it to lack
compassion? When you walk through a zoo, do you
not think the animals it houses could have been you?
Who would you be, how hungry, if you were a girl
feeding only on the meek sleep of male countenance?
Would you stand vigil, would you starve as they do?

Cate Marvin

09 September 2012

Marianne Moore

[from Marianne Moore's The Poems of Marianne Moore, ed. Grace Schulman, Viking, 2003]

A Grave

Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have
      to it yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey foot
      at the top,
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have work that look —
whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer
      investigate them
for their bones have not lasted:
men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating
      a grave,
and row quickly away — the blades of the oars
moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no
      such thing as death.
The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx — beautiful
      under networks of foam,
and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed;
the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting catcalls as
      heretofore —
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of cliffs, in motion beneath
and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of
advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which
      dropped things are bound to sink —
in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor