A Plot, Poem with Substitutions for <em>Kill, </em>Pivot

by Molly Brodak


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.


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


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

Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (U of Iowa Press, 2010) and three chapbooks of poetry. Her memoir, Bandit, is forthcoming from Grove/Atlantic in 2016.