Conversations between famous writers and their work has always thrilled my bones. Surely, dear reader, you have played the game in which you decide who best to sup with, either dead or alive. Most would pick a famous president, maybe a grandparent, sitting side by side, drinking vino and trying Cheetos for the very first time.
Hence my obsession with literary works meant to broaden or heighten an emotional connection recorded with ink and feather tip or on an ipad. The first collection I consumed encompassing such connections was: Conversation Pieces: Poems That Talk to Other Poems edited by Harold Schechter and Kurt Brown. Sharon Olds’s poem entitled, “What Lay Beyond It” had me crying + clawing at blank pages ’til I wrote the following poem. (I read this poem, my two cents to Sharon, with too much emotion and not enough time in a bar littered with literary minds. Oh, to be young. Oh, to be natural and so blissfully unaffected.)*
Without further spatchcocked spittle, my conversation starter reads:
WHY YOU WOMAN LIE UNLOVED
lie unloved? Even though,
as cold as the tops of naked feet,
you lie there scanning your half-curtain
for signs of stars. I beg you
to stand up on that tiled ground, pull your head in
from dipped clouds – your position
is what matters. No one knows,
yet, that you can influence reader-women,
to rise and be of substance in waking hours,
as opposed to sheets drying on a clothes line. Succumbing
to be the “cat lady,” her paws tapping,
exit the kitchen, (please) and put on your steel heels.
Your tummy is no four-poster bed, but a solid
middle which allows one to leap. For, ever you think
you can not bare the weight, imagine your reader
in the dark, tugging at thick patches of skin,
and fur, searching for a lover, that ran or
dug in deep. Now that I am loved
by lover, I feel as if another reader
lies in an antechamber. If
she holds onto your words, she’ll dig for herself,
or stare up at clouds,
or sleep away the sun.
And while I wait my borrowed lady is humming,
low contralto, as if to a newborn
baby – to the reader, or to the place in her mother
who also, once, lied and lay unloved.
REPLY TO ‘WHAT LAY BEYOND IT’ – LACE (1986-)
*Though I wish to chime themes that Olds seems to bend ’round with the greatest of ease, my poems will never match hers, and yet it felt necessary, a call of action if you must, to write and to publish these lines in my own time, in my own space. For once I fell atop her words, I could not shake the rush, the fall, the hopeless need to rise when lying in my own bed, lights on yet flickering off. I had to write ‘less I be trapped in a marital bed I had not yet conceived, but knew would ultimately come. I have yet to fully conceptualize how much I rely on this poem to interpret the duality of conversing with the great Sharon Olds while regarding the woes, the intentions of lying and laying with lovers in bed.
Thank you for reading me.