Thursday, January 24, 2013

On a Pale Pegasus

Our priest urged the rhythm method
My wife and I opted for something
more like jazz, strong but flexible
And for that produced with
the embarrassing terror of
accidental combustion,
a daughter

And so my love for our daughter
was a confused wall of marble,
heated and pressured
and densely streaked with lack of intention
I pictured her
held up against this calcium carbonate love
The near ivory reflected her well
Her cheeks as dual suns
Her nose a shier, pug star
But somewhere across the eyes
and near the gentle collapse of her throat
there streaked ashy stratum fissures
obscure and fatal

As with all of her birthdays
(precious stones collecting in our hearts)
She shared her last
with a despised and diseased twin
A child also of accident
This twin who pulled her down
making our daughter move
and breathe in ocean wet sand
fighting a shadow with ambition,
twice the weight of her body
that worked its malicious hands with thousands
of mucus shiny serpents as fingers
into her chest and lungs

In the first minutes of morning, every morning,
the coughing would seize her
Those hissing hands would squeeze her passages
writhing with renewed jealousy
and it was then
my daughter began

In between short, muffled kitten hacks,
the scrape of movement upon our ceiling, her floor,
jolted through the lightning rod of me
(my love became that way, maniacally receptive
to all energies she could display, I drank them in)
and released into the basement and foundation below
Beside me, my wife slept vigorously withdrawn
her snore a steady trot
while our daughter moved mountains of her white,
golden-knobbed furniture in the dark

After I first heard her nocturnal movements,
ragged hoof beats and snorts
I ripped up her uncooperative carpet
the very next day
and laid bare her hardwood floor
So then, when she thought I was asleep, she impossibly pushed, with an adrenaline panic for life, LARGE, FILLED BUREAUS, HOPE CHESTS, A HUTCH DISPLAYING HER RIGID RHYMES, A TWIN BED, HER STICKER-COVERED DESK, RE-HUNG HER HECTIC, TENSE CRAYON DRAWINGS, REARRANGED COUNTLESS PORCELAIN PEGASI (never still for long, a silent stampede of noble, rearing equines, front legs staggered in the effort of ascent, hoofs she painted red for prettiness, a silenced message curled in the frozen haste of their sprung wings), RAINBOW LAMPS, END TABLES, ALL HER SLUMBERING GALLERY OF STUFFED ANIMALS
around into new order
as if her life were the board games we played
her furniture the game pieces
Either we had started without her
or the deck wasn't shuffled right
and she insisted, with each grunt and push
of her enervated limbs,
we needed to start over

I didn't tell my wife
that the scrape-shock descending
through my shameful heart
became less
My wife didn't notice
the furniture was no longer drastically changed
Nothing large and encouraging
mistakenly blocked our daughter's door
Her room was frighteningly negotiable
There was perhaps the empty wicker hamper moved
or that green bean bag chair that wheezed tiny balls of Styrofoam
as I struck it with my fists
was in another, nearby corner

My wife didn't know,
when I started making our daughter's bed,
how I would hold up her bedclothes
to the morning light of the window
and measure our daughter's life and disease
slain into a salty aura of sour sweat
that described her outer form,
like a fully eclipsed sun,
upon her sheets.

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