Potluck

 

T H I S    W E E K

Poems by Taneum Mariah Bambrick

 

THREE: TRANS PLANET

Speckled Flowers

I keep waking up to lakes.
There is a lake in our crawl space
& one in the yard.
Our 3 cats are all lakes now.
I stopped going to work
because my job became a lake.

You are, as of this morning, a lake
that brought me speckled flowers
as an apology for letting loose
that gleaming thing we will
for now call a demon,
who eats speckled flowers,
& draws pictures of
the most terrible things
we keep hanging in the kitchen.

I like swimming in you.
I want to push a deer into you.
I want to call her parents all distraught
but it's long distance
& I used all my money buying
endangered species stamps.

Dear Congressman,
I applaud you for your stance
on the demon bill, but I question
the effectiveness of your lake proposition.
Our children are beautiful & enjoying
their lives in the circus. I gave them
matching bowl cuts & demonproof
vests to wear. Please come home.

We miss the stories you tell
about crying on beaches.
Your loving wife,
Sara.

P.S. Attached are drugs.
We live in a world with drugs.
& so I included some of them.

P.P.S When you come home I will
show you the beautiful lizards
populating our home’s many lakes
& how they sun themselves on rocks
& how they feel sorry for us
& our warm blood
& our cold hands
& our loud nights
& our mumbled apologies
to the neighbors in the morning.

~*~

To My Dearest Whom-it-May-Concern,

I am very interested in
the position you posted.
The one where you said
you were looking for a lake
with strong communication skills,
with experience planning
events with some level of
emotional conflict.

I am not yet a lake,
though I should note
both my hands are lakes
of deer-blessed holy water
with golden-sand beaches
& 900 drunk lifeguards
with faces like burnt wood.
I do have experience planning
such complicated events.

Our wedding was beautiful,
with all its speckled flowers.
All the people were dressed up
like deer & all the deer were dressed up
like box elders & all the box elders were dressed up
like people & all our feelings were dressed up
like the feelings of the people
we wished we were instead.

It was officiated by a magnificent lake,
whose words were dressed up like
whole families so small you could
hold them under your tongue
to help you sleep at night.

Dearest Whom-it-May, I don’t know
if this sounds familiar, but it should.
You were there. I remember.
Because I stretched my arms around you
& you stretched your arms around me
& I said congressman you are doing fine work.
Fine, fine work for our great country.

& the magnificent lake
made sounds like more families,
& I voted for your reelection
& you voted for my reelection
& you made the sounds
of a lake filled with swimmers
who could no longer find one another.

Now I have spent all my money
on magnificent lizards
whom I have trained
to carve sympathetic,
concerned expressions
on the face of the large
me-shaped boulder
I sent you after I left.

Which now sits in our home
next to the large
congressman-shaped boulder
you sent me after you left
that wears a fire-colored necktie delicately
embroidered with the words
~*~who is paying our rent~*~

& so I hope you will consider me
for this position, as I have such high hopes
& only a low-grade fever.
The lowest fever I have had
in a very long time.

Professionally yours forever,
Sara

~*~

Congressman, O, Congressman!
I have been working on a play about you.
It features a 10-story cardboard
monument with real glass windows
that collapses as soon as the curtains part,
right onto the audience,
who are loving this,
& shout more! more!
Some of them are bloody,
& the ones who are not bloody
are screaming we’re not bloody yet.
& so the rest of the play is everyone
on the cast & crew building another one,
another congressional monument,
from the scraps of the old one
& some new cardboard & glass
we have to have shipped in
on short notice,
& the audience’s
patience is dwindling.
Meanwhile you are backstage,
as we are dousing the second
monument in kerosene
asking yourself
how is this about me?

~*~

Dear bright March,
Dear last parking
lot snow mountain,

You are a tiny lake
without a hole to sit in.
Someday we will marry.
Someday our beautiful rain-
haired children will play on you
while we stand by, blowing into our fists.
I could give you a medal.
You could be a pony on a beach.

I have 3 speckled flowers
in a vase you gave me.
Looking at them makes me feel
like a pony on a beach.
I put them by the window,
so they could see the sun,
and make decisions about how (& if)
they want to grow from here.
The same way we're always doing.

Dear lakes, you're deeper
& softer at the bottom
than ever before.
I learned this from a TV ad
with 1000 Pembroke Corgis
in a field of blackcurrant berries
& 12 suns in the sky
rising & setting in fast motion
& an announcer letting me know
that you're deeper & softer
at the bottom than ever before

& it's true!
I can feel it with my toes.
Somehow there are 10 of you
in me drawing pictures
of dogs in detailed pencil.
I swear their fur moves
when I open the fridge door
where I have hung them.
This makes me feel
like a pony on a beach,
abandoned by her parents,
who thought she got a ride home
with the congressman's parents
who sometimes sing at church.

Dear church rafters,
dear choir, dear songs sung
at the midday wakes held
for our fire-colored lizards
& their fire-colored drapes
in their fire-colored rental properties.
We drained all our lakes
in the memory of the time
we petted your skin
& felt all your toothpick bones,
like ponies on beaches,
moving gently underneath.

~*~

Dear sun, dear thunder,
I have spent all my money on a field,
lawnmowers & gasoline so I might write
these words large enough for you to read them.
This field will later become our home
once you finish your coursework
on warm sunbeams shining through glass
& it becomes very fashionable to live in fields.

Dear thunder, dear sun,
you are sewing me a beautiful hat
the color of speckled flowers.
I will wear it for years
& give it to a young girl
who will someday grow up
to be a lake her family can swim in.
They will cheer & buy a boat,
& no one will care about my hat.

I saw an ant carrying
a dead ant I had killed,
he could barely take it,
& paced in slow, irregular circles.
Ant, where are you going?
Ant, you are a lake I am on the beaches of.
Ant, you & I are mountains covered in snow
that don’t go to church.
Instead we make our own
out of the bones of old demons
who nibbled our ears & necks & tunelessly
sang I Can Never Go Home Anymore,
who once sunned their gleaming
selves on the rocks of our beaches.

Drunk thunder! Drunk sun!
We are a confused, sleepy people
who thought a demon of a
meteor that crashed here,
leaving us this crater & now we sit,
watching the sky fumble with the light
switch in this warm dirt.
I am the lake of you.

Dear sky-deer cloud thing,
you are a girl born of the fire
the congressman has lobbied for.
I am a girl born of a series of lakes,
a list of lakes I am adding your name to.
My hands are all lizards, singing &
laughing in you. You are my parents'
front yard. Their VCR. The plates in
their kitchen. All of their carpet.

Here is a letter I wrote you:

Dear amber morning,
I received your letter, but
when I opened the envelope all
that came out was winter.
It has taken me months to get rid
of this winter, but I can see that it was
marvelous in retrospect. The lizards
have all died, & I miss them.
They were soft machines built for
your heat. I have all your children
here & they asked me to tell
you that they have all won gold
medals in the Olympics they made up
for sports played on & around couches.

Amber sky cloud morning deer-color thing!
Are you here? Could you come back?
I have written down 10000
words I need to whisper into your hair!
I imagine they will make it strong & healthy,
& you will be able to get work
starring in shampoo commercials.

We are these lakes together.
We are clouds still on fire together
from our fire-colored field trip,
where we put our arms in boxes,
where we put our lakes in cubbies
& went pushing the sun against the sky.

~~Sara

~*~

Dear demon, you snow-drinker,
You are dangerous & uncareful!
When I open my front door
the stems of 10000 speckled
flowers avalanche onto my legs.

I should have never let you in
to make a phone call when
your imaginary car ran out
of imaginary gas.
When I could have given you
the imaginary gas I keep
in the crawl space
& am always smelling there
in the dark that hangs out
in that particular house-spot.

Instead I gave you quarters
I pulled from your ear
one after another,
each harder to pull than the last.

When I finished,
your ear was bloody
& you were crying.
Demon, I should
have stopped sooner.

~*~

Dear bright morning,
you stole me, I like that.
You are a big healthy sun
in a deer-colored sky
& I am keeping all my favorite
things in my pockets.
This airport is a church
to the sky & you are the sky.
Services are open to all
early risers, we will take
you to a higher plane.
The choir are all lizards,
like you’d guess. You gave them
3 coins for their singing
& a damp cloth that
feels like their mother’s
tongue. I invited 3 lizards
home & made them beds
& cooked them so much soup
they will never get sick again.

Congressman! Go home,
you are drunk. He tells me no.
He tells me well, yes, he is drunk,
but he cannot go home because
his home is dark & cold
& full of silverfish & earwigs
& other things that would be
less terrifying if they had wings.

Let me tell you, bright m,
I had wings, but my wings are now
lakes, & all the water falls out
when I use them. You have wings
but your wings got too good:
a lil flutter & you’re on the moon
& I miss you more than anything.

I have spent all my money,
but I have spent it well, on nothing,
which was my plan because
now when we are alone we
know for a fact no
presidents are listening.
It is only in a safe space such
as this one I can tell you
about the black ops wedding
I suspect of being planned for us
by the lizards. They plan to kidnap us
& take us to a lake, where they
will put us in a rowboat without oars
& leave us out there, together
until we marry ourselves.

It would probably work.
It would probably hold,
because our tongues are on fire,
how could we say a word?
Our arms are on fire, our lips are on fire,
our lakes are on fire & our fires are now lakes.
Hold my hand, I’ll flood you.
I hold your hand, you flood me.

~*~

I found an old bear in a box in the attic,
next to a macrame wall-hanging
my mother made when she was
pregnant with me.
I pulled him out, he was dusty,
& I scratched his ears
& he & I, we danced to my favorite
record, one that was recorded by a small lake
with a voice like gentle thunder.
I heard a rumor she got her start
on Broadway, where they paid her
to stand offstage with a mic
& make the sound of gentle thunder,
like the right kind of rainstorm
that makes you want to carry a small deer in it
& kiss a certain spot between her ears
until your clothes are wetter than spring.

Dear bear, I wrapped you
a present in paper I made
of sewn-up petals
from 1000 speckled flowers.
I can't wait ‘til you return
so I can see the look on your face
& the look on your skin
& the lake on your shirt
& hear the way it sloshes over when you laugh
like a tee ball team leaning
on an above-ground pool.

I've been letting my braids grow long
so that someday I might knit you a home
that will be here no matter what.
I have been hiding letters in it
for us to find later
that say wonderful things
about warm birds &
egg salad potlucks held
in fire-colored city parks
that happen to be shaped
like my favorite parts of your hair,
where all the smoke-drunk
wasps formed a committee
to discuss the terrifying mystery
of storm doors & window screens.

& some bright day,
when all our lakes’ beaches
are thick with the right lizards,
maybe I will hold you to my chest
& tell you about the speckled flowers
I have been pressing in books.
All the dead plants
I've kept to show you.


 

This poem was originally published as a chapbook by Persistent Editions, but has since gone out of print. It will appear in Sara's forthcoming full length, Careful Mountain (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016).


 

Sara June Woods is the author of three books, Sara or the Existence of Fire (Horse Less Press, 2014), Wolf Doctors (Artifice, 2014), and the forthcoming Careful Mountain (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016). Her poems are bedtime stories and love letters for the dead animal children she is pregnant with but can't have. She is a trans woman and a Scorpio and lives in Toronto in an alley behind a drone store with her girlfriend she is married to.