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6B - The Michigan Daily lderarv Magazine - Thursday, March 13, 1997
Poetry :,A Ss'<na
Nascence: A Sestina f
The Michigan Daily Ltiaf 1Magazine
Jessica Belle Smith
We meet as strangers, each a clean slate -
or so we think. We turn down an alley and a wall
free of fresco lifts skyward: the smooth fever
of novelty. I am skeptical of whitewash,
bricks of half-covered curses, the distant beds
still hot and damp; places where
you have come and gone. I've come there, too, where
hips rise and fall in a room dark as slate
and all is silent beyond the sated bed.
The past does remain. Each wall
of your house has a different name and to wash
them bare would not abate their fever.
Would I be here now without such fever?
Burned clean each time, my heart knows where
and when to break into cold sweat, how to wash
clear the misguided lusts as rainwater on a slate
canyon brightens color striae. But see my wall,
the man's face eroding in the plaster? and here, near the bed,
see how this lover rots in the heartwood? In my bed
I've had others, but touch my pillow, touch the fever
there, the fire where I've slept without you. See the plain wall
opposite, anonymous and whole? That is where
you belong; content without a label to slate
your position, your only mark, a simple wash.
We are not Tabula Rasa; no wash
could rinse the stains from old beds
nor dilute the sweat, dry as slate
on our skin. As with any fresh fever,
the previous burn is forgotten, and where
you lie now, flushed and crazed alongside some vall.
is all that matters. But turn back the wall-
paper, watch her thin hands wash
the pears, see her soft arms where
you loved to wake. We can't dampen the fever
from distant brows, recalling too fondly the foreign bed,
morning light, other backs arching against a sky of slate.
I am not lonely in the bed, where the wall, so empty,
grows white with your fever. If the slate were clean,
the wash successful, I would not feel so full.
Late October biting at our legs,
we walked to the hardening pond,
inched our way out until the ice ahead cracked.
Our breath, ribbons, twisting behind us,
snagging in the arms of birch.
Home, we peeled off uniformed pleats,
k hung our stockings, intertwined, to scorch on the
radiator. Bare-legged, you opened your music box;
the ballerina twirled as you dropped in another
T ® note, tucked into the pocket of your blouse
* by a boy at school. Even then your dresser
overflowed with flower wrappings and perfume, silk
underthings you slipped into each morning.
You let yourself be led into places
I could never follow,
shaded corners of the gym, a stairwell, where a boy could
run his fingers under the stiff cotton of your blouse.
I waited outside in the lot, grinding my heel.
iers In the trembling lamplight, the windows of your room
frosted squares, you whispered
Sara Talpos is a creative writing subconcentra-
DWIDE. tion senior She is this year'si winner of the Rov W
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"I don't understand the difference - you, him.
When somebody touches you. it's the same."
We didn't open ourselves to each other
that night. knew only what it was to close tightly.
back to the dead-heat of summer when
we cupped our hands in the pond,
scooping tadpoles, or arched our nets over
garter snakes, mullions of cabbage moth, lives
that fluttered and coiled in glass jars, our bodies
pressed like lavender between pages of a text book.
I heard that you're living with a boy
from high school. That you'll be married
this spring in a gown of seed pearls and evelet lace.
If I could, I'd tell you of
the faces of men I have touched
taken their cool hands to the buttons of my blouse.
the body of the man I reach for
at night in a bedroom where roses
spill from the window, his breath in my mouth
as if it were something I could hold.
because you are young, and you are hep.
that your art is radical, subversive, avant-garde,
because you are followed around in stores by serial clerks,
your art gains the motif of the oppressed.
because you listen to Bob Marley's "Legend"
your art exhibits international influences,
because you use the phattest, freshest. slang,
your art juxtaposes the elite with the street.
because you stick your thumb up your ass while masturbating.
your art reflects the dialectics of bisexuality,
because you wear tight polyester clothing.
your art invokes the aesthetic past,
because you refuse your parents' goldcard,
your art reveals the tribulations of personal sacrifice,
because you have multiple body piercings,
your art embodies the holey and divine,
because you decide to buy gas from anywhere but Texaco,
your art displays elements of political protest,
because you have the vanity of youth,
your art shows the way into your ego-soul,
because you are politically correct,
young and beautiful,
you have saved all art
but when your bones weaken.
waist widens, and "voice" lessens.
art will not rescue vou
Mix the lentils, garlic and cheese, and then stir.
Outside of wood windowpanes with cracked white paint,
See the snow salt the lawn, the grass that's now straw.
See the sled left, wet.
Charles, now sitting on the bed, pulls his toes out
Of a sock. He rubs the static from the hairs
On his leg. It would be nice to wear fur. Would
Be good to feel soft.
I will pull the kettle from the heat again
Jonathan Kidd was born in Mansfield, Ohio and currently resides in Ann Arbor
He believes that writing finctions as a tool of survival and that he reduces his own
level of insanity with every line that he inscribes.
Greg Epstein is an LSA sophomore majoring in Asian Studies and Religion.
Founder and director of the State Street Poetry Project, he reads his work in Ann
Arbor and in his hometown, the city of New York.
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Jessica Belle Smith is a poet from Traverse City
Mich. These days she is a senior in the creative
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