poems by Rena J. Mosteirin

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Three Etudes

Etude #1

Baking your blue/ mornings in the clay oven/ I never thanked you
for all the days that you did not kill yourself.
Maybe if I had thanked you for each day
you might have kept stringing them on, one after the other.
Maybe life could have been something that felt good when you held it in your hands.

Pipe organs, tusked, enormous, inseminate/ the church with white music.
I wish they would play television show themesongs. I sing them
in the shower/ I sing them in my sleep. The bow tortures the song
out of the cells/ of the strings/ of the cello. If this music
disturbs children no one should listen. We’re all too white
to register the disturbance. But perhaps it’s just too loud?

Is the music making me cry or is it her vanilla smell?
(It’s the old you’ll-love-me-if-you-love-cake trick!)
Sections of the horsehair bow are snapped and sloughed
off/ we watch/ watching is the standard
response/ to torture. Who is the cello? I demand to know. She will not say.
She says she makes music
the way old houses make ghosts. One by one/ from nothing.

Take any kitchen perfume/ make everything a hand drum.
Cut hungry/ diamond-shaped holes in the walls./ Count the bones in her back.
She is the hardest rock./ Every visible bone is her American apology/
a denial of complicity. Now everyone stands to sing./ Seasons of concerts
go by. Every famous fire/ makes ash that nobody wants to claim.
Every instrument is a handgun/ if you have the right hands.

How can we tell if it’s music? Put the masterwork beside an imitation
and let a reincarnation of you, the newborn you/ indicate
which is blessed. If you, dead-and-back/ indicate the imitation
we will know for sure/ everything is music.


Etude #2

She’s so Connecticut. Her dyed black hair matches her black shirt exactly. I like all different shades of black worn at once. I like the mirages uncertain colors make; an extra breast here, hips, bumps in the legs. She is talking about Cuba. Inside my feet/ there are keys that know all the locks in Havana. How do I say that in Spanish? My feet can walk to Florida and I could swim the rest of the way. Ninety miles to meet/ exile backwards. Cuba is the sister I’ve never met and am afraid to talk to. She will imprison you/ if you tell her your love her/ the wrong way. She pulls me with warm ribbons. She wants me back. Every word in Spanish/ that I can’t understand/ is another lock.

You are not trying hard enough!
This is not beautiful enough!

I said, I want to be kind.
He said, no, you want to be real.

No, I want to be beautiful. I want to swim ninety miles to Cuba. I want that to feel like coming/ home. There is too much beautiful/ in this big library, to look/ at the unimportant poet woman standing at the door/ flipping through an English-to-Spanish dictionary looking up the word for home. Casa. Make yourself at…Then; home address, home banking, homecoming, home computer, home game, homeless, home loving, homely, home made, home page, homesick, home town, homeward, homework. If you focus on English words, the Spanish hurts less. Casa, casa, casa, the locks click forward.


Etude #3
(On the phone with Abuela)

George and Monica found a little house near./ For the children
because Monica gets nervous. How you call that—
how mother talk to children- very high
!!!ei-i-i-i-I!!!/ Screaming?/ Si. Escreaming./ I hear

the Bermont is the more healthy state in the united state.
It’s not one day like other/ the family of James giving dinner for us.
I need something from Saturday.
Sometimes I can’t understand what day is.
You’re going to be whole Rena, I am sure/even when/ you could no do it that day.

1 comment:

diana jih said...

Wish your abuela would escream at me pronto! This is such a fabulous depiction of exile/home.