Monday, April 03, 2006

caretaking in radical expression


I dyed my hair five times in one week
I dyed it red, white, plum, and silver.
On Friday I dyed it brown again.
I was on a quest.
"You look just like one of those fancy Polish chickens!"
That's what my brother said, a family man
on a family plan: one house, one wife, three kids.
"Just like a fancy Polish chicken!"
And yes, I was quite a show bird.
I call it my Circus Phase.

At Christmastime that chameleon year
I sat with my mother, in my doubtful drag,
sifting through her cedar chest.
I had been home three days and now
my mother didn't wince at my hair anymore:
dyed red and green for the season.
She pulled a small box from cedar scent,
sat it open on her lap, drawing out
the sum of her treasures:
baby bracelets spelling in infinitesimal beads
all of the names of her children,
twisted strings of plastic pearls,
rings her mother had worn,
rings she herself had won in courtings.

She then unearthed from under a mound
of braided strings, a small brooch.
Rhinestone, it glowed like one hundred flames,
kindling hope of diamonds in future days.
Saying nothing, she undid the clasp,
pushed the pin through the skin of my shirt.
Saying nothing, she snapped shut the pin,
pulled her hand away, as if I were suddenly
made of fire.

Assessing her work, she raised her eyes,
met my gaze a moment, and moved on,
told old jewel stories with every trinket upturned.
I listened, attentive, but kept looking down
at the sagging front of my thin shirt.
My mother had placed more than rhinestones
on my chest, more than a brooch.
She'd passed on fire in a web of glass and wire,
and though I wanted that new treasure,
sparkling on my skinny chest,
I did not know what to do with it,
with all of that burning.

- William Reichard, from A Faggots Lexicon


Yes, I could critique it, too. But I like it for sentiment and burning and searching -- not in that order.


Post a Comment

<< Home