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Category archive for: Marsha de la O

Under the Lemon Tree

Not rain, but fine mist

falls from my lemon tree,

a balm of droplets in green shadow.

Six years now my mother gone to earth.

This dew, light as footsteps of the dead.

She often walked out here, craned her neck,

considered the fruit, hundreds of globes

in their leathery hides, figuring on

custard and pudding, meringue and

hollandaise.

But her plans didn’t work out.

The tree goes on unceasingly—lemons fall

and fold into earth and begin again—

me, I come here as a salve against heat,

come to languish, to let the soft bursts—

essence of citrus, summer’s distillate—

drift into my face and settle. Water and gold

brew in the quiet deeps at the far end

of the season. Leaves swallow the body

of light and the breath of water brims over.

My hands cup each other the way hers did.

from Antidote for NightFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Possum

And if I made a bad meal, if leftovers,

my husband bent to scrape them into the bowl,

summoning our hound for the favor

of her indiscriminate desire,

his brows scowling together, yes, I’d open the back door

into the garage just to let the rancor out, the dog

stood in for me, her mad panicked barking.

I was pregnant, thick with it, thought to

become a woman finally, not that stick,

that boy I’d always been—instead,

a heavy figure forever wrong at dinner.

He didn’t want to be a father.

And yes, I witnessed the improbable nest

a stranger’s long labor, boogie board gnawed

to snowdrops lining the far corner.

We came face to face—rich silver of her ruff,

long pink tail sprouting wiry hairs like a woman’s bristled chin,

a quick palsy ran through her shoulders—discovered

the possum must have known it then—her ruin.

She met my gaze, lifting her plush and fragile nose.

Against my belly wall three rivers fed the blue placenta,

little matter moored by cable coiled in that water.

She stood her ground, lips drawn back,

teeth bared. Don’t tell me what love endures

or need requires, don’t tell me animals can’t make

mortal calculation. I knew she was carrying too,

building bits of flesh that fall into the world,

thirteen teats for a litter of two dozen

infants the size of honey bees scrabbling for the pouch,

and if half of what we sow is strewn on barren ground—

scorched, choked, devoured by birds—still,

all must be borne.

from Antidote for NightFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Antidote for Night

        So much as close my eyes

and a flayed Labrador is laid at my doorstep.

        And here’s the same bone

lodged in the slippery pottage

          of my heart

where this man croons, Baby you’re so sweet

until I take his head between my hands

                   and lay it on my breast.

    There’s the moon in the high window, her wall-eye

glancing off me, and a few bobbing stars,

every tawdry shining thing.

    I’ve identified Venus more times

than I can count as an agent for insomnia,

a broad sail that catches the wind and slides away.

    Not even halfway through the hours,

his fitful sleep, wheeze of a saber-saw,

waves receding on a rocky shore,

breath whip-snaking down a chute, until his body

forgets—how still, how close the kingdom,

one stalled-gulp away,

and I jostle his dying shoulder—he recoils, yes,

rebels, back now, mouth full of silver,

    What? he moans to darkness, what?

from Antidote for NightFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

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