There is no further need for disguise.
Husband, we have been found out,
revealed for frauds,
stripped naked, bones hung out
like a shop-keep’s hopeful shingle.
We are the undead.
When we walk into a room—
nothing. Sinners, cross-
lovers, strangers, stare, pray,
witness the ripple of our beating hearts,
exposed muscles, raw truth:
together we are a dead man
and his mortician.
One breathing, one wax-faced.
No beat. No pulse. No life.
With this truth, freedom.
Free of flesh, bloody muscle,
husband, we may drop pieces
of ourselves where we walk now.
We are free. Let us step
from our graves, trip
the half-light fantastic—first date.
I don’t know whether to run
hand in moldy hand
in front of a car
or send the worms of my lips
down your throat.
When she is not teaching young artists to paint blue horses (ala Franz Marc) Jill Crammond Wickham masquerades as your average poet/artist/mother in Upstate NY, funding her writing habit by running a children’s art studio. Her work has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Naugatuck River Review, Weave, Wicked Alice and others (and sometimes in progress on her blog: jillypoet.wordpress.com). She is an editor for Ouroboros Review and a reviewer for Poets’ Quarterly.
The Eskimo Word for Woman is Abnaq
Too many people think they know
what is and what is not a woman.
walking with a blanket round her head.
My grandmother fixed the suppers
—no one helped her clean.
Jesus fixed the suppers while the women
washed the dishes.
Pummeled by flakes, she is not a woman
but another word for snow.
At night, dreaming, she is a cat
with no kittens, teats full and glossy.
If you still bite after all these years,
consider yourself happily married.
I sweat sometimes at night, dreaming of a new body
to wrap my skin around.
Do you still bite your lip
when you think about me ?
rearranging the disaligned
homage to Anne Sexton’s “her kind”
i dream of a new body as i wash
the dishes. they squeak, “consider yourself
happily married” (another word
for snow). pummeled by flakes, this
lonely thing we call a house is a cat
with no kittens, teats full and glossy.
she still bites after all these years.
my grandmothers fixed supper with jesus
at their sides, and no one helped them
clean up, either. people think they know
what i wrap my skin around,
why i sweat. sometimes at night,
i walk with a blanket over my head
pretending i am not a woman, thinking
about myself making messes of what is
and what is not, wondering,
will i ever stop?
In response to first listening to a recording of, then reading Anne Sexton’s “Her Kind” [link includes recording], Jill chose five words/phrases to play with: at night; dreaming; lonely thing; not a woman; fixed the suppers; still bite. Next, we each wrote five lines on our own using the phrases. Then we each set out on the task of weaving the lines into a single poem.
Here are the raw lines that became the two poems above.
- At night, dreaming, she is a cat with no kittens, teats full and glossy.
- Lonely thing, that woman, walking with a blanket round her head.
- Pummeled by flakes, she is not a woman but another word for snow.
- Jesus fixed the suppers while the women washed the dishes.
- If you still bite after all these years, consider yourself happily married.
- I sweat sometimes at night, dreaming of a new body to wrap my skin around.
- will we ever stop making messes in this lonely thing we call a house?
- too many people think they know what is and what is not a woman.
- my grandmothers fixed the suppers and no one helped them clean up.
- do you still bite your lip when you think about me?
A gracious moon, neatly illuminating whole galaxies,
little suburbs even, spreading before you.
By starlight you can see space mothers tucking
tired space babies into bed, pulling
rain-washed, softly worn clouds
up under alien chins.
If you listen by starlight, stand quiet
in your backyard, you will hear a symphony
played on Saturn’s rings, maybe a cool
salsa beat out upon the core of Venus and Mars.
If you reach between the stars, part them
with your hands like invisible curtains and peer inside,
you will see families, maybe one just like your own,
fluctuating in the motion of everyday life.
Their starlight is your living room lamp,
their backyard is your rooftop, their music
the hum of your one, continuous long breath.
To this space family, your children seem to be tucked
in by a worn blue sky. Your lives are as distant,
as untouchable, as a single branch on a fallen down tree.