Three Poems , by Ellaraine Lockie.
She stares straight ahead
Stretched out soaking au naturel
In a stark white tub
and trance-like state
Blind to his brush strokes
Pierre Bonnard's wife subject
Portrayed at a time
when water therapy
was treatment for tuberculosis
Or obsessive neurosis
One wonders whether she
wasn't already dead
The water having fatally failed
And the corpse prepared for viewing
with oil paint preservation
a conjugal composition inquest
Or whether she has
succumbed to coma
Paint-paralyzed by the parade
of people invading her privacy
The Tate Gallery
a modern municipal bathroom
--As collected by Henry Wellcome in “The Medicine Man” exhibit at the British Museum of Natural History
Books bound by human skin
Ceremonial headdresses woven with the same
Human hide inscribed with handwriting
Mourning jewelry made from deceased hair
A gallbladder engorged with rice
An urn fastened together by bone fragments
Beside a head baked and burnished in clay
A watercolor portraying a dead child
Another face painted half here half departed
Yet another waxed with a mask of death
Anatomical specimens framed
and entitled “Fragments of Jeremy”
Mummified bodies the epitome of immortality
Me, I’m content with one poem inscribed on paper
Remains committed to the museum of natural consequences
Monday, 8:45 a. m. Walk dog.
See her standing in center of street.
On opposite side of senility. Arm
waving like a railroad line switcher.
On and on she waves. Magnetizing
me. Adolescent Asian drugged?
California crazed? But she
walks normal into her house.
Blinding my eagle eye.
Tuesday, 8:44 a. m. Walk dog.
See her center street standing. Same
arm swing. Same stance. I look
for corresponding companion.
Or traffic needing direction. See
tail end of car with wagging
arm appendage. Pale white.
Male member. She flags until
it shrinks from sight. Blinding us both.
Wednesday, 8:40 a. m. Walk dog.
See her quick kiss arm owner.
Sixties by-gone in business suit.
Within spitting distance of senility.
She deposits him in driveway car.
Same scenario. An adopted daughter?
Progeny of bi-racial parents?
Blinded to surface facades.
Thursday, 8:38 a. m. Tear dog from
Tender Vittles. No her. No him.
No car. No walk. I tunnel vision
her house instead. A blind spot.
Voyeur's vigil. Montana past plotting my
course. Snooping. Small town pastime.
Friday, 8:15 a. m. Wake dog.
Walk up-down-around her street.
See her slow-smooching him.
Two fused figures curling against
car. Double vision. His body
pressed pinned. Hands on her
behind. Her hands roving.
Rhythmic movement. Eyes closed.
Blinded to my mental meddling.
Saturday, 2:00 a. m. Definitely not
a daughter. Child bride? Mail order
variety? Does she speak English?
No matter. She speaks his language.
Why do I care? 2:01 a. m. Social worker
conscience; 2:05 a. m. Maternal instinct;
2:10 a. m. Nosy nature; 2:11 a. m.
Grapevine gossip; 2:12 a. m. Judgmental
jury duty; 2:13 a. m. Envy incited. Color
blind banning all but green; 3:00 a. m.
Desire driven. Twenty-twenty vision.
Ellaraine Lockie found Offcourse while researching poems by John Amen. She writes poetry, nonfiction books and essays. Recently she has been to Kenya on a poetry fellowship, to Centrum in Port Townsend, WA, for a poetry residence, she has received her 10th Pushcart Prize nomination and has won the 2007 Elizabeth Curry Prize from SLAB at the University of Slippery Rock. Forthcoming are a Rooftop Chaplet from Adrienne Lewis' series and a fifth chapbook, this one from PWJ publishing.
Please write to her in care of Offcourse at email@example.com
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