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Spring/Summer 2003, Volume 20.3

Poetry

 

Deanna PickardPicture of Deanna Pickard.


Deanna Pickard's poems have appeared in Poetry, Antioch Review, River Styx, Crazyhorse, New England Review, The New Republic, and other journals. She has been the recipient of two Ohio Arts Individual Artist Fellowships and two Montgomery County Individual Artists Fellowships. In Dreams We Kiss Ourselves Good-bye will be published by Luquer Street Press this summer.

 

The Fixing of Dreams

Where is my aunt who whispers
by the window all day, an echo
in a white room. Hello,

when will you visit again?
Where is she who trusted
her infant sons to the frail arms of a girl?

I studied her breasts
as she jeweled herself, then painted
her lips dark as her hair.

She ignored my intrusions into her perfume,
imitations left on a young girl's wrist.
I pumped and pumped the player piano

to calm her stair-step boys,
taught them to sing
St. James Infirmary.

                    *

Last night I sat at her table,
her four sons like marigolds circling
a spring-green cloth, breathing
the peculiar scent of mystery trees,

curious spices, her sweet babies,
and the damp basement.
My father opens the kitchen door,
smiles. He has not drowned yet.

He is wearing his Stetson and black coat,
explaining how he lost his boat
but found his way back to this warm house.

He pulls up a chair, butters his bread
and we all laugh as he says, It's not over
until it's over. In this strange place

a radio drones. There are
home run cheers, the full feeling
of a Sunday afternoon, the clinking
of forks on dinner plates.

 

The Question of Marriage

Think of it
as complicated
as the wrapping of the peony,
whatever the color,
red fading into pink,
the logic of surface erased,
or the white
unfolding
until only a pale stain
remains at the heart.
The truth is
color is never
the color first perceived.
It reveals
layer after layer,
each loosening
another and another
until
it unravels
like the one thread
that holds the hem
of a wedding dress.

*

Or think of it
as a question never asked
by the woman
who sleeps with
her married lover.
Think how she paints it
on her lips
each morning. How it seems
always ready to fall
on the unmade bed.
She thinks: Do I dare?
No. Not now.

Then folds it tightly
to her breast.
Coiling her hair
on top of her head, a shadow
lingers like a death-chill
keeping them both
from their almost perfect
moment.
Unspoken words
with the feel of satin—
the revolver loaded
beneath the pillow.

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