From the Archives (July 2007)
by Olga Broumas
with pleasure as I came.
Into your arms, salt
crusting the aureoles.
Our white breasts. Tears
and tears. You
I don’t know
if I’m hurting or loving
We went on
trusting. Your will to care
for me intense
as a laser. Slowly
my body’s cellblocks
beneath its beam.
I have to write of these things. We were grown
traveled in our time.
ever encourage you, you ask
in afternoon light. You blaze
fierce with protective anger as I shake
my head, puzzled, remembering, no
no. You blaze
a beauty you won’t claim. To name
yourself beautiful makes you as vulnerable
pleasure and claiming it
makes me. I call you lovely. Over
and over, cradling
your ugly memories as they burst
their banks, tears and tears, I call
you lovely. Your face
will come to trust that judgment, to bask
in its own clarity like sun. Grown women. Turning
heliotropes to our own, to our lovers’ eyes.
Laughter. New in my lungs still, awkward
on my face. Fingernails
over decades of scar and habit, bottles
of bitter quinine rubbed into them, and chewed
on just the same. We are not the same. Two
in the streets, loose-limbed
with other women. Such things are dangerous.
have burned for less.
How to describe
what we didn’t know
exists: a mutant organ, its function to feel
intensely, to heal by immersion, a fluid
as amnion, sweet milk
in the suckling months.
The words we need are extinct.
Or if not extinct
badly damaged: the proud Columbia
her bound-up feet on her damned-
up bed. Helpless with excrement. Daily
by accident, against
what has become our will through years
of deprivation, we spawn the fluid
that cradles us, grown
as we are, and at a loss
for words. Against all currents, upstream
in each other’s blood.
sleepwalking in caves. Pink shells. Sturdy
diggers. Archaeologists of the right
the speechless zones
of the brain.
Awake, we lie
if we try to use them, to salvage some part
of the loamy dig. It’s like
forgiving each other, you said
borrowing from your childhood priest.
Sister, to wipe clean
with a musty cloth
what is clean already
is not forgiveness, the clumsy housework
of a bachelor god. We both know, well
in our prime, which is cleaner: the cave-
dwelling womb, or the colonized
READING: Hiss and Tell’s funny, funny entry about how sexy Kris Kristofferson is
LISTENING TO: Lou Reed and John Cale’s Songs for Drella CD
SANG IN SHOWER: curse the guy beside me at the stoplight for reminding me of this song that I would have been happy to forget: Jimmy Buffett’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Must. Burn.Off.Ears.Now!
BEST SPAM SUBJECT LINES: synagogue amazon (uh huh)