Friday, February 12, 2016

Like Dynamite


For Valentine's Day, a poem that appeared in my chapbook Hesitation Kit in 2007. I didn't include it in The Public Gardens; I don't remember why. But it's going into the "Feminine" section of my new manuscript. If you haven't read Sylvia Townsend Warner's novel, Lolly Willowes, check it out. I think it's right up there with Alice Childress's A Short Walk as one of the best books about girlhood and womanhood (and colonialism, too, for that matter) that I've ever read.

                A Parakeet

Titus, her father, had made a voyage to the Indies, and brought back with him a green parrowkeet, the first of its kind to be seen in Dorset.

        – Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolly Willowes                         

The children throw things at you.

You have nowhere to go.

You’re like something to be melted down

And stuck with a wick while talking.

When it’s gloomy outside they sit in front of you

As if you were a fire.

It’s gloomy inside, too.

You don’t mean to be entertaining,

Gesticulating with one nervous but adamant claw,

Waving the alternate cut wing for emphasis

Articulate as the sleeve of a revivalist’s robe

(That is, inarticulate)

As she measures a storefront she once owned or plans to own,

“God willing.”

For they have taught you to say

“God willing.”

Of course there is no reason for birds to talk

Or to be as colorful as lollipops.

Perhaps like women they “know they are dynamite,

And long for the concussion

That may justify them.”        


Collages: Linda Norton, from WPA/FSA photos in the public domain (Library of Congress)