Saturday, July 07, 2007

New narrative poem. Can't get away from them these days. T-shirt didn't win -- in fact it scored a 1.6 overall and got kicked out of the running early. Bastards. But they get about 1000 submissions a day, so it didn't have a great chance.

but Thanks for Voting! Those of you lovely yous who did.

The Building

the walls are so thin
it trembles sometimes
when there’s loud celebrations
or when heavy trucks pass by

there are some moments
when my thumb has just clicked off
a fan, when the refrigerator pauses
in its inward, autistic mumbling,
the TV’s mute,

and the sky’s full of the absence of jets,
just air, pure invisible darting atoms
of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen,
oxygen and the tiny bits

of ourselves
we leave when we move,
the transparent cells and scents
we shed as we part the world
in front of us

and during those moments
I can hear all the women in my building,
all the women whose names I don’t know,
the one two doors down whose head
barely reaches my chin, face pocked
like a sign used for target practice

the one with magnificent dyed red hair
and massive solid thighs, the one
who’s so young and pretty she needs
to wear dark glasses every time she goes outside,

the one who never stops smiling and still
gets high every night, even though she
just had her first baby and the woman I’ve never
seen who lives right next door

at moments like these I can hear her
talking on the phone, as clearly as if
she’s in my kitchen, opening a bag
of potato chips, searching my roach-stained
cupboards (there’s the whine of the big hinge,
the snap of the close) for a good onion dip

and she’s laughing as she talks, probably
picking up a half-drunk mug of green tea
here off the nightstand in her own bedroom,
setting it down there on a bookcase,
opening up her closet to see what
skirts tomorrow has in store for her,

and sometimes I stand very close
to the ragged, shedding wall, wishing
I could hear her better, even though
I know she’s speaking
in another tongue

Is this confusing? Can you tell I switch from imagining her inside my kitchen to imagining her inside her own bedroom? Is the list of women too confusing? Am I confused? Confused I am?


Talia said...

Not really confusing (in my opinion). I really liked it.

Christine said...

Thanks, Talia.

Valerie Loveland said...

Nice poem! It's not confusing at all.

Christine said...

Thanks, Valerie. I think I'm going to trim it a bit, though.

Collin said...

Didn't confuse me. I love it. I feel the same way about the people in my building. I've lived here for two years and don't know a soul, but see the same people all the time.