The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Christie Bingham
For the first time I recognize Orion.
His bow drawn and poised over
Pleiades, a cowering cluster, the Bear,
The boy beside me stirs,
Disturbing the puddle of beads
Pooled where our skin meets.
He begins to dress
And then we're at my home.
The porch light illuminates my
Father in the placid glass.
Arms folded, lips pursed, eyes
Open, close—buttoned up,
Like the blouse I fastened with
Were it not for the boy, whose
Hands explored tenderly,
Whose awkward mouth pursued
Me like a hungry bear,
I would run to my father,
Into his widening arms
That have grown slender and yellow.
Instead, I kiss the boy's cheek
And linger long enough that my
My father dissolves.
I make my way to my bedroom.
Through an open window, where
I see the boy's tail-lights fade,
Out beyond the tattooed sky,
I can barely make out the star-lines.
Clouds settled in, thick and quiet,
the way sleep overcomes a child.
Towed to shore by warm currents,
they split the horizon's dark shelf.
We shut them out, boarded up the windows.
But they sat. Widening over houses,
over days, until the smell of our bodies
took on form and the distance between us
registered, as one hand slipping
from the palm of another.
I've forgotten how the clouds withdrew—
how silence is white space between
two lives living, like dead air,
in the eye of a storm.
Behind my unquiet eyes
three women are writing poems
about my father.
The first one kills him, drowns him
in poems that have the rhythm of the ocean
washing his body out to sea.
She delights in his head lying in the sand;
a pebble lit by the moon. And like a child,
closes her eyes before she skips the shiny face
across the waves.
Her metaphors confuse the second poet,
who thinks she saw him, gutted like a fish,
blue-lipped body on ice, one day at the market.
She writes about my father's ghost:
a leering lamp shade, a dark spot in a photo,
a door that opens too slowly.
It's only the shadow of the day,
but she swears he's there, unable
to frame him. She resigns to measure
his realness in degrees of memory.
He called yesterday, I argue.
But then, was it yesterday, or ten years ago?
It was January. It was September.
She claims my memories are under revision.
THE ART OF SUMO
Love is stronger than Death
— roadside church bulletin
I imagine two wrestlers,
Bulky in their loin clothes,
Sole purpose to push the other off his feet;
Big D with his slicked-back hair
L's pouty lips and topknot.
And this is their dance:
To one-up the other around the ring
Around & around—
Until I've lost my car
Because I lost my job
Because I was sleeping with my boss
Who was married to a woman who was dying,
Or so he said.
He was going to divorce her
As soon as her cancer went into remission.
And I find myself selfishly
Rooting for Big D to knock L flat on his ass.
Because I've got a dog in this fight.
Because I'm tired of losing out on Love.
It's tricky, this tradition of living.
I've been rushing the sorority my whole life
And for once I can imagine life after Death
Lops off L's big wobbly head:
The woman who gets the guy
The promotion and, yes, the one left standing
When Love gets back on his feet.
Copyright 2006-2012 by Cook Communication