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Eva in Detox
Later, she'd say it was only August
in that pinafore; August with a hole
in her mouth, waiting for a new tooth.
And the sidewalk was not
such a hotplate blister, the air
not a stagnant wet on her neck.
No, it was another alley, another kind
of streetlamp hum, some other girl's father
in the window, in a room where everything
is a heart, a spade, a short dress
and an alimony whisper.
Later, later she'd say it was only summer,
not much different than all the others,
how breasts came in much the same way
as teeth, as years, as step-siblings:
without much notice but they changed everything.
Someone would say the streets were unsafe,
would draw boundaries, make walls to hold her in.
There'd be black t-shirts, borrowed cigarettes,
memory with all its graffiti
carved on thighs, on wrists,
but never her own name, and never his.
There were always so many cracks in the asphalt.
I'm happy, she said
and she took her little drum heart,
the walls of her with all
their fossilized wingprints;
fled to the city, searching
for just one unfamiliar landscape.
And it was a reasonable offering,
in this - the waning
of her thirty-third year - to stand
beside the train and tremble
with the hot desire of it.
To scream in unison, for once,
with someone outside herself.
Another day and maybe this time,
there's a picture window and I'm all red dress,
glitter, all slender back with a wish for wings,
to speak the language of such flying things
but, baby, maybe this time
you're pointing to something not of sky
but longing for it and I can see them now:
a city crowd, a groundbound ache.
Look at all those mirrors, you say
and I want you to know that I can see them too,
this time, the people inside those people,
the little children they were, the way they walk
even when the path ends, those butterflies
inside their skins as if we've caught them
by accident, have drawn them a stage.
If only they knew how magnificent they are,
this close, this far away, so everywhere
in their combat clothes, their invisible halos;
so close, so far away, so precious
that sometimes you close your eyes,
take them in by breath, by memory.
So this is what it's like, I say to my mirror you
with your angel face, human grace.
This is what it's like to be like us.
Today, I am
not whole here in this house of cards;
not held for more than a dime of time;
not walking the streets in a white shirt,
with an itchy finger that longs to be a bird;
not screaming let me in or let me out;
not standing up to the oncoming truck,
my fist raised high because I am; not
listening to the music of my own soul;
not ever sure I have a heart
unless it skips; not hot nor cold and not
complaining about this little tight rope
I teeter on; not proud enough
of my mistakes to quit making them;
not dancing for the sunshine
or the minute or as if it even matters...
But I should be. I should be.
Susan Culver lives in Colorado and is the editor of Lily (http://lilylitreview.com).
Her poetry and short fiction have been published in a number of journals and her
first full-length poetry collection, All the Ways We Could Have Met, is available
online at Lulu.com, Amazon and other bookstores. More information can be found at
her website: http://freewebs.com/sculver
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