He mixes love up with the girl. He thinks of the abstract
but he sees a representational figure and he uses her to fill
in all the blanks. It's something he learned. But she's so
blank the fill-ins look white, and it ends up white on
white, no page you can see without thinking about art, and
he doesn't want to bring art into this. Maybe he doesn't
but it's there all the same and now it's got to be dealt with.
Meanwhile, the girl keeps getting bigger, in fact, she
wasn't a girl at all, not for years. She does not have love on
her mind, although it feels like it's infused throughout her
body and works there something like magnesium, which
she's heard you can't do without. So, actually, she probably
has a significant amount of love on her mind, a measurable
amount anyway. Why she has to be so elliptical I'll never
know. Typical of her kind. The art part is getting dis-
gusted. This narrative remains on the emotional plane so
far and art doesn't want to be kept there, even if it admits
to similar origins. Let's talk theory. Okay, but theory's not
my strong suit. Theoretically, he loves the girl, but really,
she's not a girl at all, so where does that leave us? Aren't
you tired of these love stories that aren't love stories at all
but just another dodge?
in the garden
in the garbage
in the middle of a garbage strike
I loved you best.
Race me around the cinder track one more time,
I love it!
I was a champion archer--
you were blind in one eye,
didn't have to squint,
it was a bullseye.
you loved me the way
members of the Pikesville Sporting Association
love an 80 lb. recurve bow that handles like
a third eye and a good right arm.
I loved you the way a Russian farmer
loves his American-made tractor,
the way Americans used to love baseball.
Take me in your hands
one more time--
I want to be your Neatsfoot oil,
I want you to be my Louisville Slugger.
Oh glove. Oh Joe.
Oh garbage in the garden!
Love leaves me breathless
Prophet Wheel I,
curly willow, hickory, poplar 52" x 93" x 10", (1995)
see more of Martha Tabor's work
THE FAMILY FORTUNE
Sometimes it's only the baby I love.
Because he knows nothing,
because he adores me.
There are no mistakes here. All wants
come down to just one hunger,
as they do, as they do anyway.
He loves me the way
the dog loves her bowl,
howling when it's dry or out of sight.
He loves me deep, in a square of night,
dreaming me there, wordless,
radiant in my flannel gown.
All love comes to this,
an emptiness that wants filling,
and a cupboard full of bones.
That you can smell another person's
body out here in the hallway of my
apartment building is not a good thing.
I came here for quiet,
and most of the time he gives me that,
would give me all of it, I think.
I wonder how we manage never to meet,
living so close that our chairs and tables
might dine together, the roaches traveling
back and forth like visiting emissaries.
He smokes, he drinks, and once in a while
he talks to himself all night,
and shouts, and cries.
He remonstrates with no one about
the broken dish, about leaving the gas on.
He hangs a soiled blanket from his windowsill.
But some evenings I have smelled the sweet
steam of an iron on a cotton shirt, and once
he was listening to Verdi.
I want him to become
the artist of his silence, to build
his city not of words, but
of smoke and glass and nightmares
annealed in his dark cauldron
until they are something hard, exquisite
and useful as a beetle's carapace, something
he can wear, like the armor men wore
when they fought all of their battles
one on one.
Beth Joselow is the author of five books of poetry, including Excontemporary , The April Wars, and Broad Daylight. Her chapbook, Self Regard, will be published by Chax Press in Tucson, AZ in the spring of 2000. She also is the author of Writing Without the Muse, a book of creative writing exercises now in its second edition. Joselow has won five grants for creative writing from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Her book, Life Lessons: 50 Things I Learned from My Divorce was published by Avon Books in 1994. It was followed by When Divorce Hits Home, co-authored with her daughter, Thea Joselow, and published by Avon in 1996. Joselow is an associate professor teaching writing and liberal studies at The Corcoran School of Art.
Published in Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 2000.