i.

Pluto and Uranus. Shadows overhead at my birth during
another nuclear test. Soon I will be blown across the kitchen
by a toaster, blacken bulbs, sit in pits of Mount St. Helens’
ash, grieve the bulldozing of everything in back of us.
It will rain and from our rain-slid hillside I will be exhumed
with my illiterate grandmothers clutching the dresses
of their lost diphtheric children. Saturn will lock their diaries.
Neptune will know what’s in them. Mars will fight
with loggers and old men & from the Space Needle, Venus
will wave, throw down enough cash to leave. Thank you halogen Moon
for my bed that looks over the last forest before it folds
for your light and the coyotes that tried to tell us.

ii.

My feet are sore, Frank O’Hara. I have trouble keeping things
straight but walking north on Fifth Avenue near the museum
to deliver bindings to a book collector I look for you down
the corridor of 53rd. What do you think, Frank O’Hara?
Of these new city shoes from Seattle? With a messenger boy I
will attend a lecture tonight about ghosts at the Yeats Society
and we will hungrily eat the canapés and violate the dress code
and we will flame our way to Times Square on the S where I will
be mistaken for a prostitute standing in the men’s room but we’re
just best friends—he likes black girls. Thank you for my bed
that smells like plywood. Thank you for incinerating my altar of
ramrod gods, blackening the wall in the shape of a wiener dog.

iii.

One river joins with another. The Puyallup, the Carbon cold by ferns,
trout-filled Mackenzie, Deschutes, lonely Akerselva, Bosphorus of the
poet who was a soldier and a waiter whose mother served us
plum juice under the trees. Nile of proscribed emotions, Wadi Sailah’s
colored glass, Barada’s withered vein. East River of AIDS and accidents,
the raft we planned to sail to Brooklyn, Hudson red with sirens and dust,
embroidered Thames no faster than my bicycle. Marbled Potomac,
Beirut of glitz and circumspection, mortars over the Tigris and her children.
Mürz seen from the red funicular, Isar surfers of the Englischer
Garten. My baby packed in Cumberland’s ice in a hospital crib,
Duwamish of phthalated chinook, Clark Fork of alternate journey,
route of ambush, lank youth, jogging mothers, dogs at full gallop.

iv.

Photograph of Dipa Ma, the enlightened mother, modern
Bangladeshi eyeglasses cloaking the light body. Russet husk
of cosmic repose. For some reason, she listens to me and to
every Calcutta householder. The picture seems 3D. I show
my husband. Yes, he says. I will allure her into the wilderness and there
speak to her heart. One to one, one from One, one in One and the
One in one, says Meister Eckhart on a 3×5 card because I will
forget the next minute, as the disciples of Christ forgot and he
despaired of all of them. His children. Sometimes, out of sleep my
heart rattles once, a bird in a cage that has been dropped. Thank you
for my dog tracking prey through panes of glass. For my son
at six, who asks for a blank book to set down the days of his life.

–Jenny Seymore Montgomery


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