flowers, always :: cate marvin

Inexplicable, the sign outside a deli scrawled
                            and below that: ALWAYS.
But there were no flowers. And I have never
seen an Always. I would like to,
                                      and I have looked.
I have kept my eye keen
                                for Always, have liked
its idea like an expensive purse, coveting it as
it appears,
          riding the arms of rich ladies who are
so very lady.                  I’ve rolled on velvet
          cushions where I heard Always slept,
and I once tried to kiss Always,
              but I don’t think it was the Always
I was looking for.
I like your Always, it looks
such a demanding pet. It looks like it kisses
nice and soft.
                    It looks like the bruise I found
flowering on my knee.
                            I fell down at your voice.
Not to worry, I got right back up, walked ten
more blocks
                and by then I was halfway home.
I knock my knees blue
                                and scabbed crawling
toward you, wanting flowers,
                        and always, always, always
to slide against the cold vinyl of a car’s seat,
your pale hands
                      on the bare backs of my legs,
that’s one Always I want, and whoever knew
there were so many species
                        of Always? Your bare hands
on the pale backs
                        of my thighs, printing bruise,
and if you said Flowers, said Always and we
could erect a forever
                              of something like sheets
                      and breakfast and an ordinary
day, my eyes would
            always slide across the table toward
        to warm their twin marbles in your palm,
my face would flower
                      for you daily, so that when we
die, roses might petal
                          themselves out our throats.
Fragment of the Head of a Queen (2007), via AP

the pet :: cate marvin

I rode him through the village, smiling.
He tossed his tasseled mane in distress.
The villagers took his gesture as vanity,
and made no attempt to rein him back.
Camped at night by stream and fire,

he seemed to think stories were in order.
The ghoulish tales twisting out his mouth
no longer frightened me. On leaving,
I’d taken on a certain complacency. Later,
he’d characterize my silence as merely

mean. But what is mean about a mouth
that, having no stories, claims it can provide
no flower for the ear, no wine for the wind?
I tried: I told the tale of him, which he
(the version being mine) was not much

interested in. But all of us, the fattening
moon, the yewey trees, the sharp-toothed
stars who combed their glowing backs against
the sky like cats: we laughed. And now
that I had left, where would I take him?

He was vehicle and, as such, responsibility.
He was deadening, tiresome, and necessary.
I made ourselves a home and kept him gently
as a pet. Visitors often wonder aloud,
How do you manage to keep such a creature

inside? The floors are stained with his keep.
I tell them my heart is huge and its doors
are small. Once I took him in he grew. Now
I cannot remove him without killing him,
which, frankly, I have never wanted to do.

why I am afraid of turning the page :: cate marvin

Spokes, spooks: your tinsel hair weaves the wheel
that streams through my dreams of battle. Another
apocalypse, and your weird blondeness cycling in
and out of the march: down in a bunker, we hunker,
can hear the boots from miles off clop. We tend to
our flowers in the meantime. And in the meantime,
a daughter is born. She begins as a mere inch, lost
in the folds of a sheet; it’s horror to lose her before
she’s yet born. Night nurses embody the darkness.
Only your brain remains, floating in a jar that sits
in a lab far off, some place away, and terribly far.
Your skull no longer exists, its ash has been lifted
to wind from a mountain’s top by brothers, friends.
I am no friend. According to them. Accordion, the
child pulls its witching wind between its opposite
handles: the lungs of the thing grieve, and that is
its noise. She writhes the floor in tantrum. When
you climbed the sides of the house spider-wise to
let yourself in, unlocked the front door, let me in
to climb up into your attic the last time I saw you
that infected cat rubbed its face against my hand.
Wanting to keep it. No, you said. We are friends.
I wear my green jacket with the furred hood. You
pushed me against chain-length. Today is the day
that the planet circles the night we began. A child
is born. Night nurses coagulate her glassed-in crib.
Your organs, distant, still float the darkness of jars.

a windmill makes a statement :: cate marvin

You think I like to stand all day, all night,
all any kind of light, to be subject only
to wind? You are right. If seasons undo
me, you are my season. And you are the light
making off with its reflection as my stainless
steel fins spin.

                        On lawns, on lawns we stand,
we windmills make a statement. We turn air,
churn air, turning always on waiting for your
season. There is no lover more lover than the air.
You care, you care as you twist my arms
round, till my songs become popsicle

and I wing out radiants of light all across
suburban lawns. You are right, the churning
is for you, for you are right, no one but you
I spin for all night, all day, restless for your

sight to pass across the lawn, tease grasses,
because I so like how you lay above me,
how I hovered beneath you, and we learned
some other way to say: There you are.

You strip the cut, splice it to strips, you mill
the wind, you scissor the air into ecstasy until
all lawns shimmer with your bluest energy.