From an Imprint, poems by Cathy Colman
Cathy Colman’s first poetry collection, Borrowed Dress, won The Felix Pollak Award from the University of Wisconsin and was on The Los Angeles Times Bestseller list. Her second book Beauty’s Tattoo was published by Tebot Bach. Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, The Colorado Review, The Journal, The Huffington Post, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Her poem entitled “The Last Time I Saw Virginia Woolf” was chosen by the Carnegie-Mellon curator of a traveling anti-gun visual art show to be included as the only poem.
If only I could have rested
in a world of knowable equations
before I was married upstream
in a churn of warning.
Our belongings, the anchors
that sunk us deeper: your already crippled
raincoat falling into the stairwell, Zig-Zag papers
on the spool table, batteries waiting in their
liminal lives for years, throngs of T-shirts and
sweatshirts gnarled together in the hamper
as if a killer instinct had suddenly gotten loose.
When we were still at the threshold, particles
must have lost their hold on each other, blown
into the confetti of petals, spindles from branches
unhinged from their limbs rained down
on us like a finely-honed chaos. And by the end
of that long night, I was married to someone
enthralled by the cadence of his own footsteps pacing
the halls in the small hours, bickering with himself
in the bathroom mirror, drying his socks over the stove
burners while he sat, studying naked and beautiful in the kitchen
like a marble statue of Anteros, learning yet
another doomed language.
From an Imprint
There’s never enough sun in the tiny room
where my almost weightless father
has had gravity’s forgetfulness fever the heft out of him.
Cobalt shadows on his face, fingernails like horn,
water glass through which patches like trod-on leaves
show crimson on his hands.
I am intoxicated by loss that courses on
in its entrepreneurial fervor: his skin loosening, his
left eye always closed.
When he looks at me suddenly, his right eye stops.
It has found something–– it glitters hard,
unfamiliar like newly formed quartz cracked
green by day. The eye is discerning, angry
yet relieved that I am all it recognizes.
The last time I heard Thelonius Sphere Monk
Water in the gutter sounds
like bebop and the gravel like hard
bop while I worry my
worry beads waiting for you to come
back, my echo-in-the-stairwell
man. You’re like
a record snowfall, once you’re here
we can’t get out of the house. We
feed the cats cottage cheese
and pretend we’re dieting in
the bomb shelter because the cirrus
and cumulus from Washington D. C. are lowering, dark-
ening and darkling, listen to the news and
there may be a tinny voice that warns us bad
acid is being sold on 7th Avenue and
in Syria, while we are
in the crosshairs of I lied and
fucking shut up, liminal like between
seconds and sub-lingual like your tongue
enmeshed with mine. I’m waiting for our early
amphibious natures to drag us back into
the feracious water so we can
rebirth ourselves not like Christians
but like fish with feet who walk
on golf courses in Florida though darling
we’ll probably end up voting Republican
because it’s too bright to see or read
a book where a woman waits on a Greek
island for a poem to come to her like
a trained dog but without tiki torches and
gun caps in the backyard, relics from our
on-going civil wars. Not just the countries’ but
ours because we tried couples counseling and
it always boils down to either
a seque-way or a boy’s choir and sometimes
a telegram that’s taken so long to reach
us it just says Stop. Stop. Stop.
© Cathy Colman