http://www.albany.edu/offcourse
 http://offcourse.org
 ISSN 1556-4975

   

Since 1998, a journal for poetry, criticism, reviews, stories and essays edited by Ricardo Nirenberg.


 

Three Poems by Rachael Jennings.

 

Two Kinds of Aphrodite

My navel reminds me
of what I’ve lost. I stare at

the scar that used to hold
my other half to me: arms,

lips, limbs, lungs wandering
in wholeness. You lean over

me now, white light showing
different tones between us:

discrepancies in freckles,
colors, warmth, everything I

pretend not to see. Your eyes
are glassy reminders of our

former roundness. In them, I can-
not see my own. What I can see is

this: I was removed from my
mother once, by a doctor

who waged silver war against
the umbilical snake connecting,

hissing a dare into my
belly—remove yourself first.

See if you can survive with
the scar tissue memory. The room

was flushed in white, and everyone
smiled then, as I began to cry.

 


 

Stillness 

But everything in this room has
given up. The blinds slit half-frowns,

the salt resolves to be just
sodium and a glass shell

 knowing nothing will shake fall
out of the clacking chatter of

spring-bent saplings. The radio
glosses over to commercial

narratives, and you tap your pen
until my lips taste ink.

Nothing can stop nothing from
continuing on like this:

radiator humming in an
unfinished corner, polished

cutlery collecting dust,
the alchemy of quiet.

When I look up, instead of space,
salt, a heater, your perpetual

rain-date grin, there’s happiness
and the promise of movement.

But blinds don’t even flutter;
They lie still like thick blue ink.

 


 

Ulysses

 

I. Mother

I tried to make a collection
of your sayings, but was left

with only those things you once
collected: rosewater-colored

gloves that never fit your hands,
a dish of pennies and sand-dollars,

prayer books, seed packets, halves of
letters you did not finish—only

bundled, instead, in drawers and stacks.
When I look in your collection

of hand-mirrors, I imagine you
half-hidden, feather fanned and eyes

green and cracked.  Snotgreen sea eyes,
scrotumtightening sea, eyes afraid

of no longer looking. Looking
down stairs, following a man who

sings the song I sang for you, before
you closed your eyes, swallowed words.

 

II. Son

He kills his mother but he can’t
wear grey trousers, can’t bow to pray

over closed eyes, sunken breasts,
hands that once fit his own.

She: she calls the doctor Sir
Peter Teazle, keeps asking for

buttercups with her bread, nods
to her son and apologizes for

things he’s forgotten. He: dresses
like Hamlet, speaks in symbols, thinks

himself a servant—refracted in
lookingglass pieces, he smiles

a poet. Others take his sign
of mourning as unkemptness,

and he dares not tell the truth.
He’s grown out of Wilde and

paradoxes—out of mothers, he
leans towards fathers and a sea.

 


Rachael Jennings has been published in Mason's Road and she has interned with the New England Review. This is her first appearance in Offcourse.



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