The Poetry of Erin Belieu, Part 4
TickRemind me of a similar devotion;
how the head, buried
deeply in the brush
and gully of damp flesh,
in its gratefulness,
a perfect worship.
This is why one body,
fastened to the forest
of another, swells.
This wild dependence
of the host on her guest.
Georgic on Sitting Still
for Kay Auxier-HorwathKay sits still in front of student artists
twice a week. She is thin, they complain,
she casts no shadows, no purple crease below
her buttocks, or valley disappearing
to become her breasts. She says, It's hard
to sit still, it takes an athlete. To them I'm just
an odalisque, reclining. I say, try this:
lie naked on the bed. Place one arm
flat against the coolness
of the covers, let the other settle
into the hollow above your hip. Listen.
Here is how the body forgets
itself. The pulse starts, flutters
a panicked beat inside your thigh. When
your stomach begins to moan
like something locked alone in a room
without windows, go past this.
Go past your sweating palms,
the tremor of your muscles.
Imagine pennies on your eyelids,
Brando's dead wife in Last Tango
surrounded by flowers.
Copy the stillness of eggs, the ecstasy
of monks, the morbid sleep
of content children. Imagine you float
How the Elderly DriveYou'd think this piece of road
just a dream for the old
woman coaxing her Bonneville
Only her head appears above
the door panel, disembodied
by sundown, floating somewhere
The way the elderly drive,
with their disheartened climbs
and slow-motioned maneuvers, it seems
they've only a mile to go down
soft, dirt roads, so that even Aunt
Pearl, her head sawed neatly from
her shoulders on the interstate last
winter, smiled down at the salad
she brought home from the luncheon
instead of tapping her brakes
gently when the semi tried to merge.
You'd think old people had no sense
of speed or the lateness of the day, or
where we all must get to, their magnified
eyes peering, inscrutable above
their steering wheels, tuberous hands
-shaking, faintly shaking,
guiding their phantoms home
The Silver TreeWill you believe that the silver tree
has emptied its seed inside you?
Why, then, do we wake to the calculusThey brought us to where it grew, foolish and costly, dear to the
of strange roots beneath our sheet?
two men who had purchased it, made it their silver elm child,
fantasy of a small boy, monument to what is worst, most hidden
and, therefore, loved in each parent. The simple tree that Fabergé
might dream for Anastasia, but never fashion because of this
simplicity, or dream George Emerson must have of climbing -
to bellow everlastingly, to tumble from his perch into the narcotic
bed of an Italian poppy field: raw glow of metal branch, flame of
the foiled leaves, where it stood, a jewel set in the tiara of the
Maine coast, and beneath, how the ocean dimly glittered in
comparison, tossed like a woman's envy...
Is this the disease of a beautiful life?
Or, conversely, is this beautiful life the disease?... and we drank red wine inside their love-house, made complete
with mirrors on every surface, doubling, refracting, alert to the
possibility that happiness might be captured, and everywhere in
the rooms we heard its transparent wing beating at the windows.
Later we walked the property, admiring the garden, then down
to the water where the sun dropped its boiling fist just below the
horizon and floated under like something peacefully drowned.
It was hard for us to return to the city, where the sky is dissected
and the admonition of a grocery cart groans constantly from the
street. Hard to speak of this, wanting, the grand variety of wishes
that seem needs here.
You iron the perfection of a stiff,
white shirt for tomorrow, and I carry
my cigarettes to the window, blow
secret smoke out into the neighborhood.
The Death of Humphrey BogartThis moment, I can't recall exactly which,
but there's a sect of Buddhists who believe one's
version of heaven lasts only as long as his
name is remembered on earth. Then, if this watch
truly times what's billed as eternal, add heaven
to that list of life's disappointments - all hype,
no finish. Women know the aphorism:
it's easy to fall for an ugly man. Your type,
Bogie, with your sad, gargoyle profile
and fidgety pistol, the hair-trigger style
of you sipping your gin with killers and dolls,
lips curled back from the glass. Who'd call that a smile?
Baby? Where are you? It's after Christmas time, I956,
* * *
when a young woman, eyes
like a leopard's cub, lies quiet on the other side
of the bed.
Nearly all this night she's watched
her husband pick at his chest, the laboring itch
of the very sick.
She doesn't know it yet, but already she's settled
on Psalm :23, white roses,
the fresh, green leaves of their own magnolia.
to salt the ocean with ashes.
This morning the wind tangles
a thin whistle inthe trees outside their bedroom window. Soon
other women will rise, with newspapers and husband
on their way to business...
... During the service, her mind may drift, wondering
if heaven has a kidney-shaped pool,
a barbecue, burgers grilled pink in the middle, a paint
sunset eternally bobbing on
a sound stage of perfect, pacific horizon:
Prayers are being read:
... He will receive blessing... She can picture them together at poolside
from the Lord and vindication
from the God of his salvation
Such is the generation of those
who seek Him ...
the Nivens coming for cocktails at five
Frank soon to arrive with the broad he's brought
round; platinum haired, stacked like an angel
an attitude of kisses, well-placed
and meaningfully red, forever at her hips