Friday, November 29, 2013

Sandra Beasley's "Small Kingdom"

It is the day after Thanksgiving. There was no turkey. But there were magic tricks. And whiskey. I made my signature dish of kale& butternut squash over herbed polenta with blue cheese crumbles& pomegranate seeds with a drizzle of balsamic fig reduction. The reduction alone takes two hours (while I stir and watch old X-Files on Netflix) and makes me smell wonderful. 

Now it's black Friday and I am still in my bed mulling over a dream of margaritas and buttery nipples on the topside of a cruise ship. I have never been on a cruise, though sometimes that three-hour ferry to Vancouver Island feels like it should count as one. No buffet. 

This morning I finished (re)reading (every time I come to this book I come to it new) Juliana Spahr's This Connection of Everyone With Lungs and I finished reading Lisa Jarnot's Black Dog Songs, which is incantatory in its sounds and repetitions, a book I am sure I will return to for this, but never in its entirety. I have also been paging through The Arcadia Project while thinking about what models I may use for the class I'm teaching at the Hugo House next week on ecopoetics. 

For now though I've turned to Sandra Beasley's Theories of Falling. I have only read Beasley's poems in journals and always liked them. Then her work came up at a dinner with somany poets a few weeks ago (initially in relation to allergies) and so last week while perusing a friend's shelves I decided to borrow her two books of poems and overall am finding I like them very much.


Who doesn't love a small kingdom?

The lion has her pride, the mole

her starnosed tunnel. My mother

grows three kinds of basil, and I

collect movie stubs in a box marked

Memories. A whelk knows only

the golden ratio of its chambers,

the figure 8 of nerve endings—

drawbridge mantle, moat ocean.

Washed up, its perfect enclosure

reeks of salt. I sort by color.

I file by coast. I know a man

by the cans and coffee cups

he leaves in his car, the thick

puppy mess of him. Who doesn't

dream of cleaning out her small

kingdom, tilting the whole stable

on its Augean edge? Who doesn't love

the disaster of her own making?

Boy, give up your slow reach

before I try to fix your life, before

I let your shell jangle to dust

in my pocket, before I burn

your operculum gate for incense.

I don't know how to keep you

without killing you a little—the way

my mother pares down the rosemary

each year to keep its flavor bright.

The way we must make all loves smaller

before they can enter our kingdom.