Does it frighten you when I speak? Intricacy
in the shape of leaf-skeletons, the dry skin on
my lips, the pitch of my voice so high above
yours-- does it make you shiver to hear me?
My voice is sweet like a D.H. Lawrence fig,
it is round with the promise of my womb,
it is downswung like a child on a swing as I
make empty promises, laugh at you from
behind my hair. The calendar marks off days
the size of an eggcup; I fill them quickly with
the langour in my limbs, the way I can't make up
my mind. I talk to you in riddles: a peach, a pomegranate,
a meddler, a service tree.
And I am milk and you are cereal.
And I am bread; I am salt; I am
a paper you write on. We are
like all things that come in pairs--
we stir into each other at times like tea.
We query each other in furious stage-whispers.
Your hand looks knobby and awkward
next to mine.
Do you look down suddenly when you hear
my honey-mustard throating? What red-throated
hummingbirds know as they duck their needle-mouths
into the pitchers of flowers is what you still
have left to learn. There is not another like me
across five continents.
"Sun & Juniper Girl"
You're stuck in my eyes with a blanket
of gingham sky, locust leaves. You're stuck
in my hands with dandelion clocks, deer-berry
clearings, birch trees, sunlight.
You're stuck in my eyes; gears spin in the gasoline
heat but I'm on foot, trudging past the milk-bottled town.
The locals lean out of their porches to watch me pass.
I am ducking behind trees, spinning spiderwebs sky-green,
I am picking poplar leaves and smelling their yellowy green,
I am breaking up inside like an iceberg, melting
into the sweet sea-green of summer. I'm leaning
on the gate to the summer, hands in pockets
full of old smells.
You're stuck in my eyes.
The maple leaves of your soul lay
one-over-the-other like fish scales,
wrapping up the sap of my skin. I walk
barefoot on the stones that line the back-roads
of your heaviness. I swim underwater in the
lake that kicks back the pictures of the sky.
The clouds are cotton and the grass is
stinging, lingering like ants on our skin--
eventually I'll understand.
Janie Gleason writes from Bradford, Ontario with a cup of tea in one hand and dark brown French braids in her hair.