Fall 1988, Volume 5.2
See other poetry by Paulann Petersen in Weber Studies: Vol. 11.3, Vol. 19.2, Vol. 22.1, and Vol. 23.3. Visit Paulann's website at: http://www.paulann.net.
If he refuses to notice your love,
write his name on a garment's inner side
where its cloth rests against your skin,
then wear that garment when you pass his way.
When he sees you walking toward him,
his hands will long to touch you.
Once yours, should he stray,
trace a circle on the ground,
and to a twig at its center tether a beetle with thread.
As this beetle crawls round and round,
the thread will wind and shorten,
pulling the creature nearer the center;
so will his steps lead him back to you.
When his demands thwart your desires,
take the lid from a pot of boiling water
and wave it about. Drops that fall
will take the place of tears
he might draw from your eyes.
For each way you are sure he needs you,
make a knot in a bracelet of string,
then wear it as your possession.
At night while he sleeps, count these knots
one by one; savor their names in your mind.
With your fingertips take his seed
that escapes from within you
and smooth it into your thighs.
Your power over him is almost complete:
the force that drove him into your body
is yours once your skin has dried.
Should his weakness displease you,
spell his name on a small paper strip
eleven times longer than wide.
Roll this strip to a tight coil,
fasten its end with the tip of your tongue,
then drop it into a creature's deep burrow.
Done with, out of your sight, he will
wander some warren's criss-cross of tunnels.
Your power over him is then complete:
Alone, unencumbered by love,
you will need him no longer,
you will not want him any more.
for Denise Levertov
Crossing a forest stream to reach
more huckleberries, I walk
on a beaver dam,
tightroping its narrow rim,
and think of you a continent away,
how you'd like
this springy mesh of branches and twigs
that stretches across to make-with the
hesitation it creates
a pond upstream, a small
I can hear your laugh, that girlish shriek,
as you teeter to miss
little surprises of grass and wildflower
strung along our path,
the dam's only surface that stays
in contact with air.
Stopped to look at what must be
slowly breaking apart on the bottom
of the clear, shallow pond,
we hear a grouse pipe its ventriloquial call.
We know its crop is packed
the same dark tartness
that shadows our lips and hands.
I tell you that this balancing act-
one hand holding a plastic pail half full of berries
the other flung out
while I place one foot, then the other
on this spongy contraption's
one walkable line--
is like writing a poem. You say,
better yet look at the beaver dam itself.
an Animal's making.
how its weave of branches, roots and silt
both holds the water and lets it go.
Mother told me there'd be
but she never mentioned this: someone
who'd risk it all just to rock
in the caulky cradle of a boat;
a man who says he could
walk into a mountain lake
keep walking, and breathe;
this husband who loves
the taste of salt inside me.