The Court of Two Sisters, 1968
Whole as it is — experience — I cannot halve it
from that place laced by stench’s powerful darling:
The French Market wafting the rotting vegetal, the sidewalk
secreting, the courtyard secretive. At seven, I floated just
below the waterline, heard our grown neighbor crying
through the walls. Stung by his lover’s rejection, drunk —
just sad — is what my mother said. Anguish
echoed into the far high ceiling —
held me in that clawfooted tub —
a dragonfly blurred
at the screened window,
wore its ancient brutal guise.
Just below, Bourbon Street, Confederate jasmine.
Pearly raindrops clung to the scrolled gates locking out the ghosts
of Jackson Square. Why not these guttural sobs, the lick
of the angry no good past? On Sundays, the courtyard
filled with tourists, and we hid, my sister
and I: slid our legs between the railings, spying.
Englobed as it is, dripping humid
we hid, secreted
whole in the erogenous south,
My Friend Emile as Heron
Thought moves through no-thought, girds
the body’s spine, fills grief’s deep tissue.
Thought entrenches no-thought: tightens
the rocks, fills between stone: a moss,
a vine, a creeping shadow. Sound unscrolls
from no-sound: multiplying, unstill. Life
enfolds life: luscious, tender plums. Death
unthreads from life: takes my friend
too sudden. Thought burns through no-thought: turns
iconic, ironic, then sighs. Thought
lands its magnificent heron, then stands at the pond
when I run by. Emile turns his neck —
opens his beak as I cry. I turn left to rung no-thought,
darken the path with my forest,
mirror the bird’s silent lift-off — regal, beyond time.
Amy Pence has recent poems in The Oxford American and Quarterly West. The Decadent Lovely is forthcoming from Main Street Rag. Recent fiction is online at All Things Girl.