Three Poems
by Molly Brodak

A PLOT

A crystal sheet warmed and knife-pleated
into a fan. Good noise. Very wide paved path
with bosquets and quincunx. Two gaudy legs
on the putti. Carved ivory dentures.

A chair made from a barrel. A plank
across an all-eating swamp. String of hooks.
A partial flea comb, dice, and fine heap of copper.
Holes into the outside. Cradles for members.

A flat clod. The tar blue basins and kettles.
A fern frond that runs from beige to light lime.
Quartz in shells, a 300 million yr-old mote.
Below, an enormous secret lake, like gladness.

 

POEM WITH SUBSTITUTIONS FOR KILL

It will not uplift you to dance

Grandfather’s memory of a fish from 1913

The permanent light from the street will baffle hibernating saplings

A button of blood on the Mayor’s vest triples within the hour

Us running down the hotel staircase, still in our party clothes

A fresh embarrassment of riches on the neighbor’s table emboldens quiet young priests

The transitive property of glass easily rendered with two equations

My neighbor came to give me a cake and introduce himself to me but I froze

I was told we had come to the jungle to photograph plants and hunt for giants

The way he reached to touch my bracelet when I absently said I loved him seemed to me
like an act of pity

I felt I could not speak clearly after three months of caring intensely about him

It is possible to climb the antenna tower next to my childhood home and listen at the chimney’s outlet for the low weak whistling without curiosity

Why the new orange cotton nightgown with orange lace trim, one of thousands and thousands sewn in Taiwan and shipped to and hung in stores in every state and
purchased and worn by thousands and thousands of other women reminds you of yourself
when you are not even sure what that is

In the prison visiting room eating cherry poptarts from the vending machine with my dad
who is asking all of the questions, a giant photomural of a sunny forest to brighten the
feelings in the air

A small ladder and a collection of folk daggers donated by teens in love

 

PIVOT

Fuchsia on red in the boughs.
The night is fixed.

Mesh of thunder above.
Black geese, tucked up.

Without a signal, the red net is cured
from brain to trunk. A soft wall.

How a thought walks and stops:
a cell’s cleft knows one charge.

Blank sounds you make as bricks.
No, say we are in long wet grass.

By the tiny river, pastel fossils.
An enormous fish crossed with a leaf.

You would not say. It matters.
The day sinks on a cold coil.

It chooses a shape that is too much
for itself. Two people.

Soon I won’t be at arm’s length.
The world is gross, you said,

it is just an extra orb, a story
you tell yourself. A clear gem.

Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (U of Iowa Press, 2010) and the chapbook The Flood (Coconut Books, 2012). She is the 2011–13 Poetry Fellow at Emory University and edits the journal Aesthetix.