And the eggs have been broken.
The bacon laid to rest. The belly of the dishwasher satisfied
at last. Oh, satiated coffeed world with your mind
in reverse and your soft body bound in flannel sheets,
how have I come to you again?
In the crash of weekday waves breaking
on the splintered porch, in the gravity and weightlessness
that hefts this ball of earth, its rotation part ritual,
part benediction. How I covet the hours
we will spend in the endless hedge grove
of banal and quiet tasks; picking up the magazines,
shaking out the doorstep’s mat.
In the yellow state I am in I cannot divine the day
or fathom a future form. From here it’s nothing
more than alliteration of motion. Though the calendar
pinned to the kitchen wall gapes in silent notation,
all attempts at formulation remain null.
Tomorrow I will don my grease-coat of complaint,
my lab-wear of ego. I will stand in the doorway
and admire the way the shore so soon becomes
the ocean floor.
the peonies are beyond their deaths.
In here—on our continent of a bed—
we are busy showing each other pictures
of ourselves: mouth to rib, back to belly, palm
to hip. Here is the reciprocal breath, the sanctified
taking—my only chance
All day long I live in my head
and as the house bends toward twilight
you say, See here, you’ve got it all wrong.
Lie down. Get a load of our quiet profiles.
the tubers have turned inward,
away from the light.
In here—in our cathedral of a room—
we are busy ridding ourselves
of words, holding our faces
to the mirror. Carrying out
our best directive.
This morning in the garden
the soil smelled sweet.
Something beyond root
Something about skin
and the body.
Last night I dreamt
of the old house again.
The rooms appeared larger,
hallways deep and wrong angled.
No end to the floors,
no out there.
Only more doors, lamps on bedside tables
turned low, dishes draining
on a sideboard.
Why that house
when there were so many others?
where there was never remedy,
only more inquiry; unopened boxes, talk
of paintings and rugs lost in transit—so much left
Today the grapevines reach
their long arms over the roof
of this house
and I wonder
at memory’s storerooms.
At our capacity
the framework of windows, attic and crawlspace.
Because I could not work it out then
I interrogate that house again and again,
run the tips of my fingers
over plaster and paint—like a blind person
feeling my way
along the backs of chairs and across lampshades.
I make my way through
the tyranny of rooms.
A Seasonal Accord
Nettles grow tall just beyond the backyard fence,
out of reach—all season—growing on the sneak.
I hear them scuff and sway across the wood.
I haven’t the heart to cut them dead.
It happens every year,
the same tacit alliance—
the same exchange
of life, death and resurrection.
I peruse catalogs of false potential,
eye the seductive carnage-to-be.
Each page more raging with chi
than the one before.
Digging at the roots,
turning under cover crops,
I bend to the bed, rotate and plow.
Play at the putting off—
the inevitable prize of rot.
Though every adolescent sprout is pleasant,
congenial, a charmer full of fibs
and propaganda. Still, I can’t help but ask;
When does the real work begin?
When does the sky give leave
and let reason fall to the ground?
Why can't I just say it?
I do it for the loss, the fragility,
the decay so achingly sought
and the bloom never as satisfying
as the falling away.
Tina Schumann’s manuscript As If received the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize. Her work was a finalist in the 2011 National Poetry Series and she is the recipient of the American Poet Prize. A Pushcart nominee, she holds an MFA from Pacific Lutheran University and her poems have appeared widely including Ascent, Cimarron Review, and Crab Creek Review.