Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Kimberly L. Becker

The Fallen Apples

Target fodder for BB guns,
the fallen apples
once were used for apple butter,
pies, dumplings,
or drying—shriveled faces on a rack.
The fallen apples
are fewer now.
The orchard,
once dense with bees,
is sparse.
The fallen apples
fit in the snug of your hand
like the skull of a fetus,
squash under your shoe,
core crushed like soft bone.
How long can trees bear?
Kenosis of growth.
And we lowered the branches
and ate until we were as gods,
knowing good and evil.
The apples, no longer picked, but fallen,
fall with a soft thump.
They roll down the hill and halt.
Like us, they are both sweet and tart.
Like Schiller’s apples, their very rot is inspiration.
So much has fallen into ruin:
the house, the barn, our lives, our overripe intentions.
Look: two apples have fallen beside each other.
They look to be red but instead are striated with discoloration.
Companions, they lie and ripen where they fall.
A still life
is still a life

*previously published in Southern Hum - Issue 2 Dec.2006

All The Graves

Within the space of a week I visit all the graves.
My grandparents’ double wide and my uncle’s
double but singly inhabited one.
His twice remarried wife will have to choose
with whom to rest eternally.
My undead mother’s drawer in a parish
columbarium is empty but engraved.
The CSA grave of a great-great grandfather
lies surrounded by the little mounds of
influenzaed infants. And my own grave:
You can see it from the window
by the kitchen table, a straight view into
the upper meadow past the barn. A rock
of granite big enough to stand or sit on.
A rock of substance and of ages.
Just stand on it and cast my ashes around.
Maybe with no breeze they’d plop into cow pies.
No matter. It’s the sweep of ridge I like.
The land is already consecrated
by the call of hawks, throaty bullfrogs in
the summer, petite feet of scavenging fox,
so I don’t require or want any formal rites.
A psalm if you must, about the hills.
But let the wind be my homily,
the range of mountains my communion.
The Queen Anne’s lace and staves of goldenrod
are all the altar flowers I’ll ever need.
Don’t be shy about visiting, but don’t
come on my account. If you find yourself
here, sit down. Take in the view. This is the heaven
I know and knew. I hope you’ll know it, too.

*previously published in A Southern Journal - Vol. 7 ‘07

The Terrible Infants

The Infant of Prague changes its clothes

or rather has them changed by nuns

and people venerate it or rather, him.

(If you work backwards, from doll to cell by cell

accretion of the Word, it sort of makes a twisted sense.)

The Infant has 70 outfits in its wardrobe.

Terrible, the power of a baby,

whose image is for sale on eBay.

My sister is due any day.

They will be changing and changing tiny clothes

they’ll revere on flawed flesh got from them both.

The way my sister’s husband looks

for signs of his own cancer

in his baby’s gas attests:

Terrible, the power of an infant,

its small, yet critical mass

What the Head Said

News item: she is accused of running down a homeless man
and driving home with his body grotesquely lodged through
her windshield. She pulled into her garage and sat in the car
and cried, repeatedly apologizing to the man, who was moaning.

When she got him home he was still lodged there

so she parked in the garage and sat in the backseat and talked

to his head

that was crashed through the glass over the dash.

She didn’t talk so much as cry.

She said sorry sorry sorry sorry

She said Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord

The head said Please and Mercy and Help

Later, weakened, it said what she hoped was Forgive

Like the head of John the Baptist

its gaze was judgment demanding repentance.

Like the head of Orpheus

its words became the poetry

she would hear singing through her unquiet dreams

and all through her waking hell.

It is her sentence to hear that voice forever.

And it just kills her

How to Make a Poem

Crucify yourself on the cross of memory and desire.

Enter the tomb and pull the stone shut behind you.

Descend into hell.

On the third day rise again, clutching blood-stained sheet.

Lather, rinse, repeat

1 comment:

Roswila said...

All of these: wonderful. But that first "The Fallen Apples" is simply terrific. Thank you so much for your memory/vision.