Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998
Poems by Rose Mary Boehm
A form of destruction
I watch you in your den. The dust
of books and parchments settling softly
on grey. You hold the linen tester close.
Pagan text on human skin, scrubbed off
Wiccan codices and other heresies.
You first gathered my pages,
then sewed me at the central fold.
A palimpsest overpainted with new
icons. A book overwritten with lies.
When you were done with me, I could not
re-write myself. Got lost in the faintly
legible remains gnawed by mice, pecked by beaks,
used as breeding ground by assorted grubs.
I now think of myself as no more than a curiosity,
an ancient vellum over which acolytes
and old priests masturbate.
Consecration of loneliness
Shy as night beasts we'd slip
into the bathroom, our night dress,
our trousers, dresses, places.
We were not in the habit
of exposing ourselves.
I just happened to pass.
She made me wear baggy
underwear, my mother.
Wouldn't buy me a bra.
Hot clouds steamed from the half-
open bathroom door.
She leaned over the basin,
examined her face in the mirror.
I saw her sagging breasts, saw
exhaustion and weariness
travelling up her bent back,
I saw her swollen ankles.
And I didn't forgive her.
You must remind me of the good times. Before
we went to sleep and turned away, before you asked me
not to leave you, before I had to get drunk on those
nights I knew I couldn't say 'no'. Remind me
of the times you walked naked to the kitchen
at three in the morning in that awful flat you shared,
just to take all the pips out of watermelon slices and feed me
cheese and juicy sweetness singing teddybearspicknick,
of the day you came to meet me at the port and how
you rested on the embankment while I cleaned the spark plugs.
Remind me of the scary film when you held my hand
or of the laughter when we married. You got a potted plant
from the pet shop and cut off the flower so I would
have a bouquet. Remind me because how else can I tell
the children they were conceived in love.
Paralized from skin to liver,
heart beats miss, our quivering hands
reach for the cross of supreme sacrifice.
Believe. Free yourself from accountability
or monsters will devour you because you're guilty.
Dearly beloveds, the church is forgiveness.
Pass the rosary.
Rats escape the ship of our ignorance,
our terror of the unknown.
In the dark we want to believe
that light is for the reaching. The arm of the man
in black points in the opposite direction.
God has nothing to do with this.
After the Floods
Relentless programming of blood sacrifices consumes
the halcyon days of summer. Autumn gold hides
behind blind transom windows and hoary doors.
Transient bitterness settles in the dark, squishy roots
of inducement. Turning lazily in the river waters,
swollen wooden shapes hint at their former integrity.
Colliding fronts squash floating stars, giving
no inducement to those who would stay.
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of 'Tangents', a full-length poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the now defunct Goodreads monthly competition. There were other prizes. Recent poetry collections: 'From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949: A Child's Journey' and 'Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won't Be Back'. Her latest full-length poetry MS, 'The Rain Girl', has been accepted for publication in June 2020 by Blue Nib.