Sappho my angel you wind you heavy sigh
sleep in the shadow of your baby
in the room where you quietly tuck me away,
where my eyes as dark as priests
fall heavy on you.
What happens to the woman
who abandons her child,
who crawls at her feet,
In the room where you quietly tucked me away
they’ve taken the blades from the clock
and all the sharp edges
leaving me pointless without you.
Room of the lost edges.
Body smeared in shadows of large abandon.
The nurse looks through the black backside
of a mirror:
little trash can baby-man.
She reads me through the mirror and goes away.
My grandmother used to read to me.
had a candle.
Each slept alone in a small room like this
in coarse robs.
They were encouraged by their mothers
to beat themselves to sleep each night.
One summer, a boy throwing stones at swallows
first woman that he loves
call him in from the dark to have his bath.
And shivering, he dries beside the flickering blue flames
of the furnace.
Then there was also a room
where Grandmother tucked me away
that smelled of talcum and dried roses,
the dustiness of old quilts
and photographs from 1940.
The room had a passage through a closet
to another room.
I used to push my way through her dresses
to reach the other side
where the dresses, the talcums, lipsticks, dried roses
clung to me like a woman,
like the ocean, nocturnal female.
That was the first room.
where they slapped me
and I held my breath
and they slapped me again.
as the surgeons pulled at my veil, the mother-wax
wiped away in the blue room
leaving its lost edges inside,
an ocean inside me.
I spent the whole day digging in the sand,
trying to make edges…
When I turned I saw my blue shovel drifting away off shore
and rushed to grab it but it drifted away.
Then I was angry and hysterical.
I found my way back over the dunes
while the first night, blue, rip tidal
shoveled back to the unknown,
waves depositing their losses
and tucking quietly back into themselves.
for the sake of the world, the needle.
pass through the eye of my needle;
come into my room
that is filling with darkness,
dark female blood
and bloody altars.
The blue blue flames of beyond.
The vapor trail of beyond.
Room like a meadow filling with stars.
Room in which I am quietly tucked away.
Basic hospital white
like a wedding gown.
Room you get shit into
like the jewels that flow from the wounds of Christ.
Bright diamond she slips from her fingers
The Elizabethan room for an Island Queen:
“Every woman must assassinate one man.”
You deposit me.
Slip me from your finger like a diamond
or a distant star.
Time was without its arms, helpless.
No edges for the past and future, no dividing sweep.
makes of these stones a house,
a room, a container,
poem to contain its own madness,
church to house its psychotic martyr,
hysterical woman to carry the child,
sleep to bear the burden of your dreams.
to pattern a song in cycles of thirteen years
that drills its way eventually
out of the stone.
By the end of summer, locusts
leave their delicate glass bodies attached to trees.
As a boy I used to take them down
and bury them.
First, I studied them, then I dug them
Summers I stayed with my grandmother
and learned with her
how to sew these differences together.
When she died she left me a blanket
stitched from old suits she ripped apart.
Heavy gray wool like sleep, brown wool, dark blue.
She dreamed them together again.
Dreams that were storied by madnesses.
The poems contain them. They order them
one by one:
the Marquis de Sade tossing petals
one by one
on a pile of dung.
Dirty boy inside his chrysalis.
Act of guilt.
Ellipsis in the house. Bitterly widowed—
who craves the passionate touch of darkness,
the child’s little sex cry.
Widower. Wasp. Atrocity!
Each word Sappho you speak is a poison wafer:
This is his body.
Rose of the swollen body.
Rose of the blue flames.
Arc of the swallow.
I am wounding you.
In my room
the walls are papered by a wasp.
The writing on the walls records rotations
of the sun and moon,
the boy and the girl and the naked bed
made of one stone,
the bed that contains a madness
and sings now with nothing to stop it,
that sings out where you buried your only child
who whined and whined like a locust in the dusk.
the squeaky voice
remembers the song.
How it goes.
Comes and goes like an ocean.
In my room there is no ceiling or borders or end.
A mouse hurls his little body at nothing and abandons himself.
In my room there aren’t any doors—well—,
but the handle is on the other side
like that picture of Jesus standing there dumbfounded.
It’s three o’clock in the morning and no one answers.
Everything has been removed:
the old books just flew off with dead wings,
the sharp edges of a thousand pages,
matches (Maybe the nurse thinks I’ll try
to light a cigarette
and set the room on fire.
Maybe the nurse thinks I’ll set myself on fire.)
She looks in on me through the black backside
of a mirror.
I lived as a chrysalis, without windows.
I lived in a body bag,
the silent body of abandonment.
A figure drawn in large abandon.
A sweet goodnight
seeing them from somewhere else, another ward
where they’re stitching me back.
The clock has a facial tick.
A mouse screams.
A nurse is rocking and rocking.
She sews my new blue song with a long sticky hair.
pass through the eye of my needle you wind,
you heavy sigh
caught in the thread
of the last breath
of the last word.
I climbed up in the tree and vanished in the leaves
and supernatural flames.
I was so afraid
and couldn’t get down
and my grandmother called:
It’s time for a bath, my child, my dirty boy.
Marlon L. Fick is the author of five books (poetry, fiction, and translation) and the recipient of three national endowments–one from Mexico (the ConaCulta), one from the United States (NEA), and one from Catalunya, Spain. He is also the co-recipient of the Latitudes Award, with Robert Bly, for Best American Literary Translator, and he has translated from Spanish, French, Chinese, and Catalan. His forthcoming anthology of Catalan poets, XEIXA, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2018. Fick works for Navajo Technical University where he teaches Creative Writing and chairs the Department of Humanities. He is married to Francisca Esteve.