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Image by Debra Gregerman

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Contributor Notes




Choir of the Gone

encaustic by Debra Gregerman





A Chapbook




Lisa Bowden

by Lisa Bowden





Choir of the Gone I

 

 

 

 

 

Elegy


 

Special impasse, no train—


no more there or back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

like a mountain dense on your back

 

a child hangs

 

thrown at you across

 

the desert,

 

then fumbled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s not dead, she’s in the Bronx

 

 

Something was malarial then, unarticulated— 

 

an undertow holding bodies

suspended in winter trees

 

            invisible weight on your head

 

we had her.

 

she

 

was colloidal, was prime

mineral in our veins

 

a trace luxury   a bird    a story stopped

 

            can’t go back.

 

            fall away, fall away untranslatable girl

 

we had her

a little.

 

if x leaves y

the puzzle lines drift

 

take home from home

how reckless, how coliseum—

 

can’t

rhythm the yeses back.

 

we had her

a little.

 

            bed night, good dear

 

these are the things we will never know:

how many inhalations, how much weight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

can you mend the barren,


lucky night?


 

make glass


notes of its hair

 


ride its ass


back into itself?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a lover


can’t wish


this much


earth


into mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Done

 

 

Rump simple

 

at the root of your tongue

 

it is there

 

a thing folded neatly on an altar:

 

the lie.

 

 

Flint-neat, like a thief thieving

 

heart , pitched


through a picture window

 

shards of glass slip throats—

 

slipping a body, a car, a plane,


a lie cleaves

 

cleaving the violin strung loose to catch low notes

 

sky the color of leaving—

 


out of orbit

 

she was unseated

 

ended

 

she was made to unseat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish—

I were ancient.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say you throw the act out—

 

for the fragrant idea of

would be percolated sex

or factless wanting

 

for erased hands

the torpid fuckery

for the space between give and lack

 

for the surrealistic two-car garages

or 29th floor walk-ups or

cubist DNA

 

for the bottom part of years

sucked unquiet

the soporific mouth

 

for the body turned over

mummy, soldier, infant.

 

Say you miss the reticulated liar--

chiefed out on some concrete

historical dreaming?

 

you could do worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Box of Bone

 

I am wrong as a cup.

unmoving, inelegant, ripe

with burden

 

in your cave

trees sleep

remembering their roots

the undone cries—

 

rock empty curve of despair

our the mood is ungodly

 

we moor want to want

unmake the box of bone

 

walking zero inches

nearer to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Language me

 

from geography



Arabic, I,

 

a taut fracture

 

lost

 

taught how loss

 

takes or reports to take.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear ___________

 

 

My fountain


of wings


misses your voice—


hands soft piano


keys I cannot


touch.


 

the enemied


self-made


crystal wanting


that silence


arches into—


is you


gone.


 

I walk


to remember


distance


the unmapable


line of breath


from me


to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Architect,

boatwind your cloud

to my ear

so I can hear

your breath

move

grass-like

across

the field

of my palm,

 

constellate

your blindingly

invisible

self

inside

my throat

so remembering

is breathing

the sky unbuilt—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gone

 

 

Sailboats race on the river outside the ICU. Wind like breath through a hose blows 50 square yards of sailcloth into bladder-shaped yokes, sliding arabesques across the water’s tense surface. The daughter breathes warm steam clouds against the window panes. It is cool in these early morning hours.

 

One is awake and the others are in a thin sleep half mile away when the phone rings. Children—adults drunk with fatigue—scattered in their mother’s apartment. The boy—the brother—answers the phone. It sits on a low shelf across the living room from the couch where he reclines. Made in Shop Class when he was a kid, the crude pine shelf holds photo albums labeled by decade. The phone plugs into the plaster wall, its chord long, coiled, and brown.

 

Earlier, the mother slept like the dead from too much morphine. A daughter lay on the bed next to hers watching her chest rise and fall for 12 hours. Head on forearm, one eye following the shifting slope of sheet on her body. Like watching an ocean swell and dip around its horizon line while lying on a beach, ear cupped by palm of warm sand.

 

The mother apologizes for it taking so long—her dying. For 2 weeks in other countries and states, her children leave lives and families, eight pets, three businesses, gymnastic meets, parties, grant deadlines, meetings. They convince her there is no where else for them to be, nothing else to do but be there.

 

The last time the mother wakes she looks 20 years younger than when she went to sleep. Buddhists say death is an unwinding, so the children figure they are watching her unwind, get more relaxed. She is luminous and full of strange power and a far-away gaze that startles—at once withdrawn and arresting—the room feels pregnant with the stillness before a hurricane.

 

Roses stand in a plastic pitcher next to small yogurt spoons they use to feed her ice. An L-shaped tray on wheels hovers over her lap. They take turns holding hands, new intimacy, at first awkward, or backward—who is holding whom?—then a matter of fact. Hands seek hands, after a drink, a stick, or pulse check. Skin soft like Chinese silk.

 

A catheter bag dangles from the side rail, turns colors like a mood ring. One woman who changes mother’s bag is listening carefully to the stories she won’t tell her kids. She has a sudden, great strength and holds the nurse’s arm, talks in a girlish high pitch about a guy at a diner by the beach one night named Reggie. He’s big and handsome and black and she wanted to go home with him.

 

Then turning to look at her daughter instead of the wall, the mother says she has stars in her eyes, and struggles to push up off the mattress, off the tubes, leaning into take-off. Ready to rocket away. Ecstatic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystic darlings speak

beyond orthodox breath experience

 

whhhhoooooooooooshhhhhh

 

 

they are washing the world

 

 

 

edaphic sky eddies

 

falcon-ready,

 

glide and are gone

 

whhhhoooooooooooshhhhhh

 

 

 

 

“don’t be afraid

 

they are like doves”

 

pbbbltltltltdt pbbbltltltdt pbbbltltltdt pbbbltltltdt

 

 

 

 

out toward snow-

 

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