Today's poem is by Jendi Reiter
I am so tired of looking forward to things
like summer and the end of summer and of course my wedding,
not trying any longer for a meaningful day
between this random moment and the onset of the play
where I must learn everyone's lines in order to fit
into their script on cue. The freed butterflies flit
from their cages like a cloud,
or like an angry fate imprisoned by a god
and released by some rash mortal. In the air
they're an agreed delight, but tangled dying in someone's hair
like a veil askew, or crawling up an ankle
with a monstrous, sensuous tickle,
they're crushed without mercy. One crystal
glass is lifted, the other smashed under his heel.
That's the point of ceremony, separating
the washed from the unwashed, just as all this waiting
for festivals to redeem our profane time
pretends to cheat death by parceling him
out into orderly segmentsas if artful bits of food
laid out on matching china had nothing to do
with shit or soil or the burgeoning, withering flesh.
Wedding presents make me think of death.
I obviously have a problem. The sighing trees move
their canopy over me and whisper Love, love,
let go of it all, and the lilies along
the aisle scatter pollen from their delicate tongues
like gossip, safely collective yet impossible
to withdraw once released into the wind's mumble.
I am indeed tired of trying to please and be pleased
and deferring to reasonable objections and remembering to say "We"
when discussing his money or my buttocks, and keeping peace
as one keeps a pet, chained to a leash,
while a spoiled little girl inside my brain
jumps up and down in a tantrum like a bug in a Mexican bean,
crying I, I, I!
Hell is other people's relatives.
No, it's not fair to blame them wholly if I live
the cross-examined life. Didn't I long
for all these props and prizes so I could prove them wrong,
the sneering imps of outcast childhood,
the men who were oblivious, hungry and ill-mannered?
And didn't he throw down the gauntlet
of his romantic faith to validate
his scorn for the popular who squandered intimacy
like drunks pissing in every alley?
We were already playing to the gallery,
wanting to share our love with the world, and maybe
rub their noses in it a little. But one can never
prove anything to the world, only make it surrender
by ignoring it or being ignored.
Consider the lilies of the field
which are so admired as they nod their beautiful heads
like empty golden cups, till the tank's tire treads
grind and flatten them into a feeble
unlovely silhouette; and then consider the pebble
which guards its hard round shape as the tires
roll over it and maybe even makes a a puncture.
Copyright © 2003 Jendi Reiter All rights reserved
from A Talent for Sadness
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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Copyright © 2002, 2003 Verse Daily All Rights Reserved