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Yesterday I held nails between my teeth

as I hammered the corners of poems home.

Sometimes the walls would resist and the nail

would bend and I was sorry I had not learned

how to curse in Hungarian. At other times

the walls would yield so easily I could

have kissed them and inadvertently did

as particles of floating plaster

found their way through gaps

between flesh and steel into my breathing.

There were issues of alignment, of coordination.

I was building a room of words and images

and it was good to feel useful for a while.

Afterward the people came

and inexplicable exchanges were made.

The mayor’s speech eloquently

transcended his handsomeness.

The vice mayor read one of my poems

in Slovak then held my hand

and my eye until I felt all languages

could be versions of the one mother tongue.

The evening was as elegant and honest

as these evenings get, really.

My red velvet dress was just a cover,

the real story imprinted in the structures

of cultures that rise and fall and rise again

and in its small way, last night, in a breath

that held the residue of a single plaster kiss.

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