First Being There

Morning Roses

Morning Roses

23 September 2013
11:11 am

Edinburgh

T. —

I’m thinking about my poems this morning, my writing, my PhD, my personal correspondence, all the words that come out of my fingers. I’m thinking about the types of things I write about: questions, purpose, direction, movement, progression, migration, doubt, fear, frozenness. I’m thinking about how much I hate writing poems that have my own stories in them. Why? What do I have to hide? What small shames of my life are off-limits? I can’t think of anything that feels that vulnerable, and yet I’ve been adverse to writing about my life too closely.

This morning, I wrote about cutting roses. These roses, in fact.

*

Hull
Ali Shapiro

First I learned
to taste the water in the bilge: fresh
meant a leak from above, salt
from below. It was all

bad news, but I relished
the knowing how, the squinting
and lip-licking, the distance
of diagnosis. Now we’re slipping

under the pass, the bow unzipping
the wake, and I can taste
salt everywhere––here, pooled
in the shallow of your clavicle, here

in the forked delta of your palm.
Once, I climbed down
into the skeleton of a hull, and through
its raw teak ribs I saw light scrolling 

across the black screen of water like credits
at the end of a movie starring
the reflections of stars. The next morning
the hull was swarming

with builders, glassing skin
onto the bones, shaping
the empty belly, a scene
I’d seen before—wolves, carcass—but in

reverse. If our bodies
are vessels I cannot
take you inside me. If our bodies
are water we cannot

go swimming. But still there is something
whispering back to the insistent
secret of current, a kind
of transaction, the water corroding

and holding us up, the ship-to-shore crackling
and calling, our wet footprints on the gunwales all
of course, yes, dissolving, but first
being there, and shimmering.

*

I think I would definitely like to be a community TA for ModPo next year if they do it the same way.

Good morning,
M

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