Poetry from Web Del Sol


Kim Addonizio


How images enter you, the shutter of the body
clicking when you're not even looking:
smooth chill of satin sheets, piano keys, a pastry's glazy crust
floating up, suddenly, so the hairs along your arm
lift in that current of memory, and your tongue tastes
the sweet salt of a lover as he surges
against you, plunges towards the place you can't
dive into but which is deepening each moment
you are alive, the black pupil widening,
the man going down and in, the food and
champagne and music and light, there is no bottom to this,
silt and murk of losses that won't ever settle,
and the huge unsleeping fish, voracious for pleasure,
and the soundless fathoms where nothing
yet exists, this minute, the next, the last
breath let out and not returning, oh hold
on to me as the waters rise, don't be afraid,
we are going to join the others, we are going
to remember and tell them everything.


During the night, horses passed close
to our parked van. Inside I woke cold
under the sleeping bag, hearing their heavy sway,
the gravel harsh under their hooves as they moved off
down the bank to the river. You slept on,
though maybe in your dream you felt them enter
our life just long enough to cause that slight
stirring, a small spasm in your limbs and then
a sigh so quiet, so close to being nothing
but the next breath, I could believe you never guessed
how those huge animals broke out of the dark and came
toward us. Or how afraid I was before I understood
what they were--only horses, not anything
that would hurt us. The next morning
I watched you at the edge of the river
washing your face, your bare chest beaded with bright water,
and knew how much we needed this,
the day ahead with its calm lake
we would swim in, naked, able to touch again.
You were so beautiful. And I thought
the marriage might never end.


In the darkness of the booth, you have to find
the slot blindly and fumble the quarter in. The black
shade goes up. Now there's a naked woman

dancing before you and you're looking
at her knees, then raising your eyes
to the patch of wiry hair which she obligingly parts

with two fingers while her other hand
palms her body from breast to hip
and it's you doing it, for a second

you're touching her like that and when
you lift your face to hers she's not
gazing into space as you expected but

looking back, right at you, with an expression
that says I love you, I belong to you compl--
but then the barrier descends. You shove

another quarter in but the thing has to close down
before slowly widening again like a pupil adjusting
to the absence of light and by the time it does

you've lost her. She's moved on to the next
low window holding someone's blurred face,
and another woman is coming nearer

under the stage lights and in the mirrors,
looking so happy to see you trapped there
like some poor fish in a plastic baggie

that will finally be released into a small bowl
with a ceramic castle and a few colored rocks,
and you open your mouth just like a fish waiting

for the flakes of food, understanding nothing
of what causes them to rain down
upon you. You can feel your hunger sharpening

as she thrusts herself over and over into
the air betweeen you. And now, unbelievably,
there comes into your mind

not the image of fucking her
but an explanation you heard once
of what vast distances exist

between any two electrons. Suppose,
the scientist said, the atom were the size
of an orange; then imagine that orange as big

as the earth. The electrons inside it
would be only the size of cherries. Cherries,
you think, and inserting your quarter you see one

sitting on an ice floe in the Antarctic, a pinprick
of blood, and another in a village in north Africa
being rolled on the tongue of a dusty child

while the dancer shakes her breasts at you,
displaying nipples you know you'll never
bite into in this lifetime; all you can do

is hold tight to the last useless coins
and repeat to yourself that they're solid,
they're definitely solid, you can definitely feel them.

"Flood" first appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review
"Near Heron Lake" is from a chapbook, Dark Veil, which
appeared in SEXTET/ONE from Pennywhistle Press (1996);
"Physics" appeared in American Poetry Review.