Summer 2020 - Poetry

Jennifer Met

Stranger on a Nude Beach

—On Woman Combing Her Hair (Alexander Archipenko 1915)

 

Breaking, water on skin

bells to the wind—fresh water

pearls breaking, clattering

to the floor. Now gloss bronze,

 

wet sand sticking, she breezes

comb from tote. Tosses it across,

knock-kneed. But here her arm frosts

over, in love with a single, brunet

 

need—best these sea-wet curls.

Airhead! A full moon’s beacon

bubbling—the beach we seek

in abysmal night’s swell. Forever

 

vain! Me rising to jaw, borrow comb,

breech her arm’s confines—but her brain

empty. One to talk. Moon as double

exposure. Mirror missing, you comb

 

in front of me instead. Do we address

our breasts unbound, face the why

of our legs shut tight? Ah, Cubism, we

sound in tandem, not ceaselessly

 

standing to self-stare as sculptor

might have us, but so airy, so carefree

quick your gaze has already turned,

left before the long exposure

 

completed. Breaking free, sovereign

arm raised to a vacuum, pulling

my open gape, but break too this

flesh-faced fantasy—just that—

 

already gone. And now void, I am

left reaching—caught peeping—head

left forever circling the invisible

thought—its moon—its feminine

 

mystery.

 

 


Tabula Rasa

 

Start from the beginning—not clay, as they teach,

but marble—mineral recrystallized in an interlocking

mosaic. Call it a miracle. Call it family. Call it to you

like a lap dog—the Earth as recycled art. Now do

like your mother. It would have been easier to work

in the positive—adding mud to form feather—shape

created around nothing. Easier to pack & pressure

geological rings as you go—linear as time. Laboring

in the reverse is a more difficult birth. But chisel this

hidden bust that already exists—smooth, white & nipple-

less. This is your classical. Form by punishment—

take away what is already there. In this way the creation

myth is not tortured, but in mistake you cannot go back

to add more stone. Instead, the Earth becomes smaller &

smaller—a mere mote in the block of available space.

Smaller still—until today seems almost forgivable—just

an insignificant speck in the timeline of the universe.

My whole world, she shrinks as I try to reconstruct her—

whittling, whittling too far & finally losing the project

with a careless exhale above the work table. But know

this is mother Earth’s gift to motherhood. Together we

are a Shinto God of Destruction—giving our daughters

the opportunity our original creator did not—a stone heart—

a clean slate. Spring’s rebirth—to add—to build largely

in the positive.

 

 


Jennifer Met lives in a small town in North Idaho. She is a nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthology, a finalist for Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, and winner of the Jovanovich Award. Recent work is published in Gone Lawn, Harpur Palate, Juked, Midway Journal, The Museum of Americana, Nimrod, Sleet Magazine, and Zone 3, among other journals. She is the author of the chapbook Gallery Withheld (Glass Poetry Press).


 

  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.