It hung in my mind, a cloud of promising metallic qualities.
A metal frame stretched out, an umbrella’s skeleton flared
to introduce suction and assemblage:
Women at work on truths untied and forever reframed
with perpetual interruption. Cascading green velvet
and chocolate thread; moreover, stares cruising past,
walk signals on and blinking.
Women behind women, Russian doll clapped over a doll against dolls.
A student walked in and asked the boss if I—and not the others—
would teach her to scan a heart all morning. Ultrasound it.
Of course, I said, right as
a doctor who’d given birth to six children stood outside
the boss’ door to say she disliked
a too-bright quality in my work.
In a dark lab, I leaned my hand on top of the student’s
and showed her that her death grip on the probe
kept the camera tucked firmly under the fourth rib
and would never focus a good picture for her. Heart windows diverse,
she had to sweep the wand over a patient’s ribs—
like a gaze ranging a whole store
for a walk identifiable
of loping, or side to side,
its person wearing known khakis, slow toss of hair.
When she was four,
my mother crawled, a secret,
down one arrondissement, across a bridge,
knees down another cobblestone mile
Germans sniping from the top of L’Assemblée Nationale
the largest building downtown.
Thunder roll of bombardment or not, her mother crawled above her,
mother an arms and legs shelter,
her own doll held beneath.
she never said to little me
that's enough, stop looking in the tin
at a stack of identical sweets.
She knew one day I’d learn my own enough
and gaze – a bright enough – would fill the space
around each fog, brick, and soft face arriving.
When language throws out the last
heel of bread, failing to break your purpose;
when speechless, I've likely seen a brand of mother—say,
a many-faced Picasso—red, framed, grandly lit, and known
beyond the hundred sweating heads.
Her white face, each disfigured eye stuck wild
on a green drift means the mother leaving, her child
quiet behind a door, human instinct on her many lips,
crimsons burning around the stillest face.
We pass over a long bridge being
built while we ride it, your favorite incidental
pasture of goats to the side. That picture—
goats up a tree—recalled from the web,
while birds sew a long thread that spells
red and brown. My hair, too long, decides
in the rearview to look eternal or sage, as if
warning you never know what you’ll wake to.
There’s no way back from this story
to the real goats. A stylist snips and a woman
claims her children three and five more
animal than human, then pays. I sit,
the stylist combs my hair to a peak. I flash
on a desiccated body, a marble foyer
but don’t scream. The stylist pulls my hair down,
snips it blue wet & straight across.
What sweep, what an arena, available imagination:
dead bodies, birds sewing trees, a thought
where you appear as my co-worker and scold me
about my large city of glue gunned Styrofoam
when in real life I rub your arm often.
The goats aren’t really up that tree. Scissors
click, hair falls through air. Having received
sophisticated instructions immediately to lie down,
the hair looks flung. It starts a quiet wave,
incidental hair of a child whose whole mien says
almost. These abstractions grow impossible.
Perfection forms its slow lies, flops to one
region of pillow; hair awry like a cow tongue
as it lathers. I fall asleep and I keep this to myself:
I asked the barber for dog ears. And keep to myself—
always there’s night available for darting words
singing there’s some other version you don’t see.