Megan Burns to Carolyn Hembree
I think if you are the specter than I am the spectacle. I think Skinny becomes us. I think the birding of the front room mismanages time; I delicate boned in the arias about the poem think peace but match for match desire unbinds me.
Hinded, she sings: “watch: the Mother will her shawl slip/ flimsy golden-threaded/ o’er the shoulder o’ thought, bare/ shivery, so you can’t tell/ the skin beneath from what’s been laid atop.” O Watching. O Circus. I think I slip crook elbow deep to be armed in where you will take for I love the break. I love the break of her, o spoonfed little violence: “when you gonna grace/ kelly the silver screen, huh?/ Aw shitty, shitty you without us.” Shame trebles the deepest waters. Will you wander?
Twin Peaks had a black bird; it cried “Laura, Laura.” We never tire of watching a dead pretty thing peek beneath the plastic: “another string bikini’d string bean/ who in a string of bad language unstrung/ my mind—a gripe a gulp a growl a glint a goring.” It seems that we the reader are not what we seem. It seems the “fluff off” we wished on wizened our hours. Mementos that tackle downstream and carry you home; we can’t wait for Skinny to take us “flip flopped” and whisper, “I skin. You cane. You can’t tell, with the naked/ eye cane from cane’s shadow onto a pig’s side dropped.”
When Nicki Minaj sings: “big fat pussy/ with an icy watch,” watch us we all do the space she takes up. If a cane, “finger’s length, into its vagina slid/ Meet its eye; your fear to the wayside dropped.” Where do we hitch breath in the waiting next? Bridled in the discomfort, there’s a million ways to fail at womanhood. All taking up space more than you should and mazing the constraint, the ridiculous becomes a tempered line, the absurd a place of bargaining: “My whole body’s a hand up inside the hole of some lacquered clock reaching—”
Let’s admit we hate Skinny; I mean don’t we? Haven’t we been trained to thin the herd of all those awkward bits we do distrust; how easily we fit the feathered lick that sweats her skin.
And Mamie throating the discourse, a woman on top of a woman confuses but we familiar every family tracking paths we pretend to follow: “Lost you lost in this lost that you see that you got that you and that you in that.”
Carolyn, every time you speak I want to rise and meet your mouth. Stuffing for stuffing, I would swallow the skins of you until locked tight we would stutter before the fall. Outside of desire, deeper than desire, the skin of language that Barthes rubs for lovers; in that labyrinth I imagine we dance cheek to cheek, stiletto to knife blade, thigh to open wound.
Tongued comes the poem, tongueing its way pink and slippery girded by the teeth set to bite back: “us would say, Us loves you you can’t be dying on us/ who’ll speak the old speak for you—Gaaah—”
“so the feathers/
a collar makes”
Megan Burns puts poems in dolls. You can see her dollbabies here.