Sunday, March 01, 2015

A Curl To The Left

I want to say your cruelty redounds upon yourself,
but two problems. One is I suspect
this sense of "redound" is out of date;
and two, while true, it's really not the reason

not to be cruel, or not the one 
you're built to understand. Try this:
the sunwashed wall one summer morning
longer ago than all you still remember

and the crumpled paper blown
at a canter
down the dry Modesto gutter.
There was a shadow of acacia

moving on the Spanish plaster, and you
thought, quite suddenly, that there might be a place
the complaints of your mother might not reach.
And after, when you had drawn 

an opening curve with tiny beads
of shining red along the line, that place of peace
became a counterstory, the positron
hypothesized but never seen. (Still

never seen, known only by the trail
of bubbles curving to the left: but without
them how to make sense, make balance
of all that negative charge?)

And I would ask you now, forgetting
what redound may mean, to hold 
in one small hand 
the enormity of that defiance.

Tell your mother to go to hell,
(as she surely has: it wasn't far to go) 
and follow that haunted curve
left, that unfamiliar, frightening curl,

the unwinding of all she drew so tight.
Pull the hair tie loose and shake your head
so that all that glossy hair swings as it will:
left, and right, and left.


Marly Youmans said...

Nice. And now I'm wanting a mirror one with some fleck of mercy for the mother, how she became bent, how she was made so that she could not give her daughter what her daughter needed, how she was so rigid and lost that you can send her so easily to hell...

Dale said...

Yes, I'll have to think about that. To me the sequence is so obvious (hell to hell to hell) that I take it for granted. And being a Buddhist, I think of "the hell realm," as we style it, as simply one of the places you can be -- and all of us are from time to time -- rather than as a full stop permanent destination. But how to convey that without overloading the poem...?

Marly Youmans said...

Oh, I meant a whole other poem, with the focus on the mother... Don't add more to this one!