An Exercise in Emmy Hennings
[based on Emmy Hennings, 1918, photograph]
The whole arena is wet with her. Patience, ladies.
There are only so many ways to approach a desk.
Step One: hover Step Two: curve your body into
a circonflexe. Say it: Every desk is a precipice.
Say it: The avenue is dark with flowers. Say it:
In the daisy-shade Emmy curls her edges, a love
letter never sent. So what next? If Eden is equal
parts wicker and unrest, who is this woman,
her mouth a glove, silk and smearing us? Why
does she hide her body behind the chutzpah
of wood cleft? Is this what we fought for?
Another way to bury our bodies? Another
hour behind bold patterns wood weft?
Do not be a stranger to Emmy. Do not
confuse her fountain pen for a flag, her
eyes for a net. Say it: this desk is a diary
private as the hole sunk peg and Emmy
is writing her myth in 4 x 4s and cherry
legs and only another woman could see her
as severed, the desktop a stopper, not lever,
her fingers lost forever to the glitz of her head.
Ode to My Far-Off Son
Buggy, in the end, you will blame my body.
The bourbon dip of my skin will simmer
into a stew of armpit juice, my torso once
tucked full of you, will fester, its opus of
flab, a sudden wound. I have not bought
the vanity where you will find me chipping
the crust of blood from my pubes or gained
the glossy backfat your friends will stare at
as I stand, a kerfuffle of remotes in hand,
yelling to turn off the cartoons. You are the char
of this fire, my fondant forged in flame,
and I just want to cast my hand along
the spark and gristle of your body
before it bursts, to feel the open shutter
of your mouth as its shaved from shale to ash,
yes I know, I’m the reason you have to go
through all that. I’m just not sure how to cover
up the bruise my mother left when she undressed,
each stretch mark a violet unscrewed. Buggy.
I don’t want to do that to you.
So let’s build a curtain for every fetid freckle.
Let’s quilt a cover for every tooth. Let’s fish
for smoke and vial and vial the dew – anything
to contain me, to gutter the shame taking root.
Alexa Doran is a mother, a lyrical gangster, and a PhD candidate at Florida State University. She has work forthcoming in Guernica, the Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Mom Egg Review, and Tahoma Literary Review, among others. Web