I looked at you without breathing
When you told me you loved her, too.
And I gagged when I smelt her
The smell of her on your twice-kissed lips
When I kissed them, too
(I have always choked on perfume).
I thought, this is a cheery commotion!
There’s peace within it; it is peace.
A crystalline hush,
I pluck it from the air like static teardrops
Halting the restless messy choices
You always loved me as if you might lose me
Your cries at night crossing continents –
You were a magnificent lover.
This loving her (too) is far from monstrous –
It’s you, darling. It’s you.
So why would anyone expect me to leave?
‘I loved you
you said; ‘suffering
your every demand
for a sweeter life’.
‘Each breath I took
I took for you’.
Did you stop breathing
When I left you?
From the moment you called me Sophie
my breath was on your lips –
you unwrapped me at minus six.
I don’t know what it is about the name.
I watch him run
limbs competing to stay the rush of life
legs awkward; feet rolling inwards
readiness overcomes; shoulders lag behind.
I am so smitten by this child’s gangly grace that
He steals the breath from my lips.
Tonight I’ve been watching the most spectacular women perform quite the most spectacular performance poetry. You can see them on youtube: http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/six-incredible-female-performance-poets-spit-rhymes-of-reason/
I was overwhelmed. I came face to face after all these years with the spectre of my own utter inadequacy.Again. So I’ve written a poem about a memory I have of feeling inadequate in much the same way in the face of being told how talented I was.
It’s a totally inadequate poem. I don’t care. And I love it because it is.
I remember now. There is a story I can tell.
There is something special about me. I do have something to say.
I can fabricate it. At least I have that.
I remember how they would ask me: What’s your story?
How come you’re so good at this?
Who is your family?
Wealthy immigrants? Left-wing activists? Old money?
Did they escape Auschwitz? Write pamphlets?
Innovate? Dream? Know someone? Anything?
We are nothing, I would say.
We are a very ordinary family.
I don’t know why I have this gift you value.
I don’t even know what it is.
If it’s mine.
And now I’ve lost it all.
I have nothing left but my son.
He has it all. He is it all.
He is the magic.
A few words on “being enlightened”
(for my sister)
“I have the answer”, I say
to the room of Enlightened Souls.
They are rowdy
with chatter and acclaim
Like blushing piglets running in circles
fussing over oats too plentiful
I am offering nothing
but words –
daily babble thick with abandon
the code a lure;
some master’s labyrinth
without prize or solution.
And yet, the gathered minions
with opened eyes now
Rejoice and grow
Asking, on the train home,
how much should I be charging now per hour?
© Suzy Gordon 2012
All rights reserved
We sit on the front deck when the rains come
All a slather.
A watery frame in which we wash
– arms, brows, backs –
It reminds me of that clamorous hush
when the snowdrops crown
and I hold my hand up
to trace the condensation
Hoping this glassy relief
will vanquish the cold
once and for all.
It is the end of a long winter in the north.