Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Big Three-oh (Plus a Revision)

In honor of the blessed occasion, a revision of "After Winter Nursing" in which I attempt to clarify and unify the poem's imagery and (per Luisa's request) give readers the chance for a mental breath via periods. 

All the usuals apply.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to me.

*

After Winter Nursing

I imagine myself newborn. Mouth 
dripping with nipple and milk 
warm as the rest between breaths

when the flesh goes lax against 
death. Stutters between syllables
of desire. Cozies up to the grave 

as to memories nursed 
over the mourning dove's elegy 
the winter Keats slipped beneath

my skin. Nestled into the swaddling 
mother knit around my soul 
before she raised me to breasts 

heavy as temptation. Latched me on 
to her heritage, Eve calling come 
eat
from the kitchen as she filled

an eight by three by six basin 
with desire enough to top off 
the abyss. To trigger the contraction

of God's womb, Eden's walls bearing 
down on my hunger. Birthing stars 
like purled bodies 

sweating as snow down a window 
fogged by childhood wanting in. 
Panting its catechism. 

Asking what it means when 
the mourning dove sings even though 
winter’s come. Even though

the dove’s coo may just be a coo. 
Even though I’ve been asking 
since Keats came in from the cold 

when a bird’s just a bird. Snow just snow. 
Flesh just flesh. Death just death. God
just breath on a memory, marking 

where I buried placenta and soul
in this landscape suddenly blank 
as DNA the moment of conception. 

Base pairs copulating like voices
singing back-up in a dream. The one
where I'm Adam. Or is it Eve? Keats? 

My mother? God? Me? Sitting opposite 
winter. Watching question marks 
punctuate a garden: sprouts turned

fruit-bearing trees, branches heavy
with burial urns heavy with milk
still warm as the rest between breaths.