Susan Elmslie reads from I, Nadja and Other Poems (Brick Books)



Shea graph Andre I want my notebook beef stew that it is to you to me it holds a certain blue sky my past life fire and truth Andre I want my notebook to shield my daughter to pull the curtain on my tango life as a null janu my dreams swept into the dustbin the masks I shed for you displayed on your study wall with pushpins screw your game in your retinue Andre I want my notebook my notebook the spine the words the drawings on onion skin I'm more than the specimen you dissect in your book your limp noodle vision of the feminine you won't take off your shoes at the beach I walk barefoot in the margins of my notebook naked and blue cold with the discipline you pursued me and now I pursue you my notebook Andre my notebook how the lychee came to be a God found his wife alone with his best archer enraged overtake him with jealousy he turned the archer into a stone smooth as the archers draw dark as the eye of the heart small as spite the wife crushed by remorse and grief threw herself down and grasped this small stone curling up around it in her white night dress drenched with tears her lingering desire transformed her pale flesh wrapped tightly round a dense dark heart sweetness of Tears moved by the antosy of emotion the God took pity on the lovers and tucked them into a shell like cocoon where they could embrace for eternity the shell warmed and glowed the lovers flushed cheeks this is how the lychee came to be i right because poetry is to the body as energy is to mass it lives in me as a new and perhaps because we have little else to give one another you and I because history repeats with the cocooning of Secrets because I have loved and hidden it in cycles sure as Mississippi floods stupendous litany of ampersands it swells and washes and carries the house away and to find it again I must describe it to you have you seen the Sharks I glint on my bone handled knife the lime that bleeds may pay-as-you-go grief comes in installments a small package each season so you can afford it when it comes hold it up as a light catcher to imploded windows crawl into its tremulous beautiful to lose your sense of balance to know your center of gravity study the awful crystal a–they the corners of rooms the ash in your coffee the heft of things dropped accidents happen afterwards sleep a Faberge egg send it back and you may have nothing at all or worse a stomach full of stone mouths when the world throws up its hands portraits of my mother at 18 my mother SAT for a portrait and one print turned out so fine the photographer displayed it in the window of his long branch shop across the street from the hardware store where my father later dropped his broom and dodged a Buick or two to sweep her off her feet the best of these prints stood on the top shelf of the wall unit in our living room each fall I'd place the new glossy of me next to it stand back then demote myself to a lower shelf eyeliner and polo knockoffs with matching earrings too garish next to this queen of curds and cream 1948 another print taken earlier in the sitting is mine now sent to me by my father in a final clean sweep you can just see a hint of the white peasant blouse under a gray bolero half a candy apple for a smile eyes ready to deliquesce thank you this face is before everything before she made a tomb of her sunless bedroom grief Accord 8 brooch she couldn't unpin seven letters to my mother five carry on we're terrified both of us you of staying put me of moving or is it the other way around is that what your shuffle is part get me out of here part where in hell do you think you're taking me just down the street mom will visit I'm always in the belly of the great white shark of the skies 747 moving again farther away from you change because it scares me what's the alternative live in the bowels of a house you hate have hated for 40 years stubbing your life on the same threshold I give up everything at least twice a day I pack it in pack it perfectly in boxes and cases I hire other people to help me do it everything gets done move on or dig your heels in we're not the only ones mom clinging to each other at the bon voyage party you give me stationery I give you a carry-on the hard disciplines for calculus from the Latin for small stone used in reckoning on an abacus this one fought until her neck snapped like a chain this one gave in and was strangled anyway this one was kept for years in a whole another tried to observe the generalized power rule stay stone still think dead be small and hold her breath into infinity the symbol for infinity is a detached link of a broken chain a dead girl with hips and breasts small god help me I'm small powerless to protect my daughter keep her whole I can form a precious chain of words slider than a number of girls killed this year supposing I had real power to quicken a chain of girls curving into infinity the hard disciplines six chemistry for westfolk earth and the epigraph reads and to the finer chemistry's that makeup and renew him every seven years exactly as he is affirming everything from change of heart by bronwyn Wallace this year makes six since we crossed over into marriage this ordinary brownstone this house made of hummingbirds seven since we first touched palms ignited lived close to the flame that we've managed stay there warm sane neither of us succumbing to disease seven year itch the lure or curse of Statistics stills me when he returns from this long journey will raise a glass to new discoveries and to the finer chemist trees that kept us keep us coming back for more the sublime stitching of energy and mass the distant tungsten burners of the night witness and bless the perfect residence of two complex structures hours more than once fully awake the twin engines of our cats and the dube clouds around us I've studied the poetry of the cells elements carbon oxygen that make up and renew him this man who was born who breathes beside me every night basic elements standard measurements beyond this he cannot be glossed what makes us who we are all shoulder or art how do we learn to love what we need not volatile stable gentle symmetry wonderingly were content to watch the light show of unresolvable substances repeating their elemental glory every seven years exactly my first lover tried to choke me seven years we were together and for seven years after leaving him I smoked like a chimney took that part with me dar alchemy I transmuted what pain still lived maybe love is the hardest discipline simplest formula arcane catalyst who can name all its allotropes this climacteric i'm remade glittering as he is affirming everything

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