Poetry by Goldaline Verde: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Cold-Blooded, In Which Golda Confesses Her Sins Before A Jury Of Her Peers And Her Guilt Is Found Wanting, and Only Once

What We Talk About When We Talk About The Cold-Blooded

1
It’s the old anarchists you have to really watch out for
Because they’re the ones
Who have considered a hurricane of viscera and diesel
And said,
“Alright
When?”

2
I hope you can forgive my momentary flicker of nude clarity
Just now when I let my beastie out to frolic (oh dear)
I’m usually camouflaged in this freckled husk
And I try not to let anyone see me
As I move between the shade and the sunlight
Like an uncomfortable reptile
Opening and closing its mouth
A toothy watcher
Patient by the river’s edge

 

In Which Golda Confesses Her Sins Before A Jury Of Her Peers And Her Guilt Is Found Wanting
I haven’t been inside a confessional since I was 17,
I’ve not been to a church since I was 15
And I have not confessed since I was 12
The last time I was inside one of those small dim kneeling closets
It was in the days before they locked the churches against people like I and my teenage girlfriend Alexandra
Who found it to be a post-sundown groping space far more welcoming than the movie theaters or parked cars our parents expected
I would crouch into the little priests’ crevice with her head between my legs as I sang a hymn into the echo

Innocent days in hindsight
Against the world smoking camel cigarettes and listening to cassette tapes full of music that 30 years later people would think had been cool all along which is probably your mother’s definition of bad kids, I know
What quaintness to be found now, what soft notions of violence in our reconstructions of the late 1970s
I never met a Travis Bickle and we went out of our way to behave unsafely because of how unrelentingly kind everything seemed

I don’t approve of time in motion as we have it, like the slow ringing of clocks, the grandfather clock from Poe’s Masque Of The Red Death reverie: it’s 9 in the morning, time to take your vitamin

I started with that titillating anecdote to ease us into the present puzzlebox
Where I associate dark spaces with illicit release or illicit release with claustrophobia
Oh, I imagine my husband inside me as a 50s sci-fi astronaut
A space opera with puppets and green screen at a drive in theater
Bubble helmet on my head like on his cock
Filling with water, a timer
Slowly drowning me in my own briny tears
At this point the Big D (by which I mean divorce more than him but dig that Freudian slip & slide) seems almost like a suicide impulse
We post coitally lie awake and say nothing to deflate the cliché
I could have sworn the light was on in here
Briefly

You learn young
Whether you can escape or not
You wait until the light is just proper
But I’ve lost the mechanism to gauge the whites of my enemies’ eyes

Because the damage to my eyes…
14 years old on acid, staring at the sun for hours and the doctors said I was lucky to just be legally and not completely blind
I close them and it’s like I see an impressionist battlefield, war I’ve never lived in but been promised constantly
Gray land of veins and barbed wire spinning into the sky
It overlays my mundanity, a propaganda infused fresco
I never wondered if it was God’s way of punishing me for forgetting how to speak Italian
But it is a weight
And the damage
Necessitates my gravity
Necessitates my enjoyment of a dark I can actually feel
I admit that the scenario described above with the acid and the sun is an urban legend that I usually recite when asked, “why do you wear those dark glasses?” and I don’t feel like telling the truth about my “legal” blindness

My hindsight is still perfectly clear
And my future vision is better than most even through such a constant glass darkly
It’s too late to unshackle

This is The Great Escape and you aren’t getting out alone
But he would lead me
By the hand through every desert
And I’d never tell him
It’s the water I want

Unhinged from the possible
You get old enough and you settle for the likely

I’m too worn
Like a much loved book
To be a Woman-In-White
I acquiesce to daydreaming
As he folds me in places he wants to remember
To remember, to pretend
What we really don’t
Choose to see
We make a brief serendipitous flare
It’s a duty now
A ritual
A lighting of candles
Alexandra’s face lit up in the pinholes of light coming through from outside
Her breath in the dark
As it stretches on for decades
We put on our diver helmets
And he leads me
Blind
Through the illuminated
Boschian fire land
Thousands of gutted basilica like beached whales washed in from far out in the deep
Even though it’s Alexandra’s never-middle aged, engine scented countenance who comes to me in my squint
It’s this
Selfless sack of hated potatoes whose kindness I am grinding my fury against
Who leads me wordlessly like Virgil through the lands beneath
Of my once exuberant and youthful
Scorched earth retreat

 

Only Once
I only remember it raining once in Italy
It rained a whole lake out onto the floodplains
Four feet of brown water in the summer
All the neighborhood kids (mostly boys) spent the whole first day in it
Splashing and yelling
I was forbidden by my mother

Non voglio che si nuotare con i ragazzi
I don’t want you swimming with the boys

She would not explain why

I, at nine years old did not understand why that could be
So at night I snuck out the backdoor and went swimming alone
Perhaps I expected to meet someone mysterious in the water

I held a bullfrog that I caught
To my face with both hands
Kissed it like the prince in the story
Its forehead was dryer than I expected

The water was like wading in an inky mud darker than the moony night
I stood in its center
Waiting

In America it seemed to rain every day
And I don’t recall
How many amphibians I’ve kissed

Goldaline Verdi is a writer and musician.

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