|clew: 1. A ball of yarn or thread. 2.
Greek Mythology The ball of thread used by Theseus to find his way
out of the labyrinth. 3. clews The cords by which a hammock is suspended.
4. also Nautical a. One of the two lower corners of
a square sail. b. The lower aft corner of a fore-and-aft sail. c.
A metal loop attached to the lower corner of a sail.
This time zone is sleeping.
Shhh. the light comes.
Sissy Spacek moves towards us
Through the wheat fields, wearing
A backpack, listening to cassettes.
She gestures up. The Kevin Kline we know from
Film is one dark dash below the parachute.
They are ready to take on the roles of Mom and Dad.
A child walks into a whale
With eyes that light up red
In a museum featuring
Biblical scenes: Jonah, leprosy, spirits
Of demons pulled right out of pigs.
Where did you expect me
To be going? The firehouses all
Lit up in neon, the kittens
Demanding only the best crystal
Litter. We are underwater
Now, you and I.
In the air, it is said, we can breathe.
It is projected we will be able to but
I see you bend your finger.
How do you do that. No, really,
Hello, how do you do.
The plumber shoves this box to reach the pipes.
Dad is watching Mom make dinner.
She has a wooden spoon in her hand. Her hand is on her hip.
The peppers sizzle in the skillet. The ground
Meat, a heap in the green bowl on the counter.
They have had that green bowl since they were married.
The bowl is eighteen years old.
Here we are on the bumpy caravan
Riding past the people with arms growing
Out of their stomachs, the harpies and the wrens
With their wren-size lion heads. This is a place with
A Priest named John. This is his kingdom.
There are giants in the mountains and talking pigs
That know where the cherries grow
With heavy pits of gold.
Behind her back, Dad
Fills the dishwasher and squeezes in the lemony goo.
Mom mashes olives with a fork to saltines
That she feeds Dad from the TV table. His cold is worse
Tonight. The sparrows snap their heads from left to right
And bite the pillbugs. Mom draws a bath. Dad finishes
It off and wipes his mouth. The flowers in the window
Give fragrance. A washcloth. The rabbit paw fern shudders
As the heat kicks on. I come into the room from far
Away and touch one of these tendrils, the gray fur of
The rhizome reaching at its own speed into the room.
There’s a bear standing in the road
Watching us approach.
Mom tells him to get in the car
And please keep quiet so
She can concentrate.
You may taste three of the flavors.
And then you may go forth
And discuss the ones you neglected
To select. Dad will be on his throne
As Father to hear what you say to
Mom as Mother. You are the first
To witness your own life. There’s nothing
But physics when you get down to it.
Speed and the amount of it in the light.
Mom washes your face.
She holds your forehead
As you lose your lunch. She is
Hovering above the whole house in a recline
Of nervous glamour. Dad mulches the
Yew branches and comes
Inside for a glass of lemonade.
You lie on the chicken
Pox couch, as Lily Tomlin,
Covered in calamine lotion.
Reader, let’s sit in the mud for a moment
And look for miniature snail shells.
Discarded, they are the cups
Of tiny people who live in the backyard
In moss and grass. They are genuinely small.
About the size of one eighth of your finger.
Their bones are like shark’s, the skeleton
Is actually cartilage, so they only bend
When you step on them. Before Dad
Does the mowing, though, I like to give
Them a warning.
The Christmas lights blink segments in the trees.
Who you knew was interested in more than
Just a getting to know you session. Who was
In over his head, who was up in arms. How can you
Confirm that you are being held. You can’t.
I walk up the street with
Your hand in mine. We are now lovers.
It’s excellent. Unhitched gate
To a gallery behind the gentleman’s club.
All the landscapes we’ve only imagined take off their
Frames and call birds to them. Badlands bellows
“Robin, come rest in my mountainside!
Come move among my humps!”
Painted Desert calls:
“Canadian geese, I’ll stroke your neck with
My petrified wood!”
And then Grand Tetons whispers
To the sparrows who tentatively arrive
In the summer wind.
The sparrows hover above the yard, waiting.
Your hand hovers in mine waiting.
My mind hovers over your hand.
“Okay” I say. “Okay.”
In the sun is an animal with seven French
Horns, a personal acupuncturist, and enough
Torpedoes to take out Venus. We learn
This from the Bible, and immediately the Today show
Sends a Crew. They row fastest and get the scoop.
When the animal decides to make its move, we get
The first step on film. We get the second step on film
As well, and the rowers wipe their mouths.
Mom brings us another bag of chips in the backyard.
And Kool Aid, tropical — we watch the show
through publicists, pinholes.
Some shows had bright color
That would pull into a comet —
Round like a mitt, with a silver
Coated, three pronged, base
Oiled for maximum spin.
The spin was silent. The room was beige
With a carpet of burning
Colors hung on wall.
And the center of gravity
In me somersaulting
And ratcheting me up like a car in heat
One loose leg to kick the rug to kick to kick
Around faster and around and faster.
I could hear their kind voices
In the fizz of rectangular light.
Place Deborah Norville’s career
In a field of purple wildflowers.
Were lovers. The same two continue
To keep secrets from you, reader, and hide
In the bushes, front yard. Watch the shadows as
The Christmas lights begin blinking.
The magicians will arrive in their magic
Cars that run on hope and they will
Point away. Agatha Christie
Combs brambles from the silky
Coats of her yappy little dogs,
Lifts her head, and smiles at you.
Reader, I propose that you had or have
A front and backyard as we all do on television.
With hollyberry bearing trees,
Yewberry bearing trees, landscaping,
Textured mulch pound bags, a driveway, a car.
This is the meter and anything else is
Measured more or less.
I mean America empirically.
The building you lived in,
Your first kiss folds into the story
And reminds you of a movie.
Think about your collarbone
Feel it there a solid thing that
With its citrus, antennae, buckyballs, prairie dogs,
Diane Sawyer on her raft and the grand river’s expanse.
Its suggestion of graced flow
For flow’s sake alone through
The remarkable random slopes and gullies
Of America and its shirt of embracing intentions.
Remember the glacier and what it did
To the marigolds?
This is Mom as a City or Town.
This is Dad as his own Register of Deeds.
The town council draws maps
And unveils a new Wendy’s franchise.
The citizens go bananas and plant so many
The municipality is illuminated like
The whole place is on fire.
Jane Pauley in a pool filling with the light of dusk
One arm rests on the rocking, transparent raft.
She kicks her way to the ladder, breathing.
Dead Dad will be played by Disneyworld’s
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Those first spins
Take you by surprise, but
I see Mr. Toad checking his pocket watch
From the corner of my eye.
Mom is climbing that big silver
Ball that stands for EPCOT.
Get down we cry to her.
Get down right now.
Mom stands next to us silently
And I see she bought a keychain
Depiction of Mr. Toad’s jalopy.
Never you mind. I have a button
That pushed whispers
You to sleep, holds you,
Pulls the string of your words
Loose, fastens it
From your mouth to
The way the pencil sharpener smelled.
The way the vote turns on feelings.
The way a crutch feels in your armpit and how it lets you fly.
Sometimes there is something not human
In the middle, like a dog that sees things
Differently. Here’s a personal story:
When I took “Old Yeller” out
Of the Cherry Hill public library in elementary school,
There was a paper inside that said if
I wanted a blow job I could call this number
And ask for one. Did I. No.
Behind her back, he
Fills the dishwasher and squeezes in.
Kelly butters saltines. She feeds him
The TV table. Kevin’s cold is worse
Tonight. The sparrows snap their heads from left to right
And bite the rabbit. The fern shudders.
The heat kicks.
It’s all okay, the whole time,
Betty White was frying up bologna
In the center square
Keeping it warm there and safe with provisions.
You can visit the Museum of Television and Radio.
You can watch it happen again.
Mom stands by
As the stranger shakes upside-down
In the elevator. He coughs up
The cherry-flavor gummy fish
That was choking him.
His cold is worse
Tonight. The sparrows snap their heads from left to right
Their small heads fit in your mind.
The rabbit shudders
As the heat kicks San Francisco into pieces,
Into the wide Sargasso Sea.
Let your hair down, Katherine Hepburn,
Let us climb in
To your Connecticut mansion
Where the fireplaces
Are confidently burning.
Here she comes with another armload of logs.
Reader, rest here awhile,
On the carpet, your hands to the flames.
The stilled frames from
The African Queen
And Bringing Up Baby
Are themselves tonight, as it is night.
Here, behind the sofa,
One shy cinematographer
Places a purple
Lens over the room.
The pool is getting up
Out of its in-ground concrete surroundings,
It’s moving like a grand ghost, silver
Slippered around the backyard. Touching
The pine trees, their viscous sap
The ivy, the pool is standing blind
To the baby rabbits running at it
In ecstatic madness, nosing it, the squirrels
Too they are thirsty they are thirsty
Mom under the table is thinking about the bills.
The ducks and their bills in their sky are diving down
And flying through in bursts.
The boys that I will kiss are in the water.
The cooled voices of the anchors
Are holding the water to the ground.
The pool stands still and shudders against the voices.
It stands still and Mom is still.
Come reader let’s swim. If buoyancy
Is still here then we can float in this.
We can swim in the pool as it gets to know the yard
And readies to explore the town. We can
Ride the crest. Shots were fired. The eagle has landed
In your hair and is lifting us up
To the tops of the waters.
North of the pools is a six-sided pavilion.
From the television she gazes at herself with
Compassion, intention and contemplative joy. The story is a harsh one.
The boy and his brother were beaten down with sticks.
The gum would never wash out. The chickens in the
Processing plant had not come to know kindness
Or been in the audience of love. The brothers
Eventually triumph and the chickens make them stronger.
When the barn doors open, and mom and dad leave.
When the barn doors open and the cats leave
And the cows leave, and their calves, and the trees too leave as they
Do in spring, when they become what they could only be
Now that heat allows the sap up. From the TV room,
Dad listens to Mom
Put the dishes away.
Joan and Stan
Were their names in my case.
Like arbitrary noun genders in another language.
I would like to learn yours.
To unlearn my Joan and Stan
And see another pair
For what they accidentally are.
I will be
If you let me
Up from my chair.
Please let me stand and let me
Put down this newspaper held
Between us. All you can see of me so far
Is a silhouette.
Please don’t be frightened
When you see I am only
The kids run to catch their buses.
Mom as Moonstruck’s Cher,
Stands in the corner of the room
Holding a cool wet washcloth
Which itself holds
The curve of Dad’s forehead.
Mom and Dad hold their kids to the sun.
The kids hold sheets
Of black paper with pinholes
And through, on white, a point of light.
Now, under the magnifying glass,
The sun finally begins to burn.
The sun is not your friend.
The sun is not your mother your father your lover.
The sun will explode and take everything and not even know it.
Dad’s cold is worse tonight. The role of love
Takes a spoon to the ice cream and opens his hand.
Mom kisses him.
Dad tries to lift his head to her.
Prickly heat on your neck in the summer when you
Have been sitting in the humidity, when Mom was
Standing by the tree, when the tiki torches lit
Themselves. There’s Mom crying. What can we do
For her to make her feel better.
What can the pool do for her.
What can the grocery store do but offer itself
Up. One child descends and puts
The laundry in the hamper.
Let Mom be played by Candace Bergen.
Let Mom be played by Mom.
And those aren’t kisses. Who gets their obituary
Big. Like a fruit, like the expansion of space.
Dad what are you doing here? I thought
Your audition was over.
The marigolds shed their parasol seeds and the magic happens
Again with water, the roots rocket down the fist of new leaf punches up.
Breathing underwater now.
Relax, this is how the anemones
Do it, through the skin.
The stain on her professorial blouse, probably coffee.
The papers strewn by me on
The floor I dropped them by his desk
To look up to sneak up
The sleeve of his loose t-shirt
His warm buttered bicep and further up and under
Curlicue of jet black hair smoky goodness.
I put the papers in a stack. I got an “A.”
There isn’t a door. One body against yours. It is one
Body and yours is another. Fingers tap together
The way organs play together.
Harmonize, allow a life.
There isn’t a keyhole.
There isn’t a door.
Here is a roll of quarters for the arcade.
Are you able
To break love down into its constituent parts.
A cradle. A pinwheel. A basket. A cargo ship.
A plastic lemon on the end of a tether.
An anchor lodged in the mud.
I mean America empirically everywhere including all over the body.
The role of love will be played by
Dad wrestling his two sons up
Into the air which will be played by water,
Which will be played by Mom’s tears
Not even aware of themselves still inside
Her when she was a girl
Like her adult teeth and the eggs that would become
My brother and me. The atoms move around
Like skee balls thrown with all Dad’s skill
On the boardwalk up the lane up
Into the fifty-point hole, one after another.
The night owls hoot in all the forests of the earth,
Turning their heads almost all the way
Around. They fly
Into the fifty-point hole to take a look around.
The kids are starting to spin
In their spinning chairs and they are laughing and dizzy.
The tickets are starting to spit
Out of the arms of dad’s waiting room chair.
Throw hard with care.
Let the ball go up and roll right on in and
Dim the electric light.
You have enough tickets to get on before
The best part is over. With the explosion,
The plants shudder, less, then less, then less.
There is stillness.
Their stillness is horror.
Dad’s hand’s stillness is horror.
Take your tickets and hurry on in.
The role of love will be played by your entrance.