When you sleep the marooned sleep of an ermine in your nest,
preening the silken arrows of your chest hairs & too dumb
to despair, think of me. And think of me when you wake
full of light & alone go hatcheting for vetiver to scent your soap.
When whipping your buggy of griffins to the grocer, plotting a list
of delicious edibles to fill your mouth with, you must think of me.
I’d like that. I’d like it if you thought of me when boiling gizzards
for your cat, or when between a different set of tits and longing,
let it be my face, my fat you chomp on—just me. Because
when you’ve set yourself to bake The Biscuits of Discontent
in a tray of days, you must think of someone: I submit, me.
For when I’m a pinned fly wriggling on your wall: a nerve,
a kit of marrow, a dumb one trying hard not to empty, won’t you
always think of me?
I can’t help myself I get
the salt. Jekyll didn’t want
to eat the apple; Hyde made
him. Strapped him up
to a machine. This always
makes me hungry. Bits of
skin stay on like an imprecise
man who’s just shaved.
is my favorite opening.
Next would have to be
the body, the way it opens
in rooms that allow it
to, the way it opens
a paring knife, I
knick the surface.
The woman in the wheelchair shouts what sounds like a weather report,
but her words emerge as a net
clung to by suckers or some creature she doesn’t want.
She could live with a creature
and this is a song of a woman who lives with a creature—
but we’re all just waiting here for the bus.
A kid asks what’s wrong with her.
Her creature’s dewlap frightens others when it puffs, and she is the only one
who understands. We call it love.
Each evening, she hoses her creature down when he comes home from work.
Each evening, she shimmers from inside a mirrored closet.
The woman in the wheelchair wants me to talk about my creature.
I want to say to her the sky
is warm and salty because we’re all underwater.
I open my mouth, but I am not a whale.
It was stillness a large body breathing;
a Texas August with no air conditioning.
Nights I sat alone, watched roaches unzip corners
of the house till Juan came home drunk to ply me
with wine and castor oil, his famous salami tacos.
Friends brought gifts of ice, twining fingers
in my hair; while tissue forked inside I drew pictures of amoeba
in pastel and called Mother to cry.
It was a great legged flying horse,
soaked and screaming,
women all around, there hands and towels
working on the spill that wouldn’t sop.
Cut away from me
and still flooding. I have risen from fire
with swollen tits and a nearly dead
infant. I have found a mouth.
As if I had been the train
she fell under, the one who tore
so permanent a rip
a throat was made to make the cry
to outcry the blaring empty space of it.
She thinks her scar is hideous—
it bleats in the night, coos for touch.
When a mouth seals up, the gush turns,
but she won’t listen—
As if arms could coax a mechanical bird
from its nest of linen
I hold her to me:
young woman, young body
clacking its teeth.
Other poems of Wendy Noonan's have appeared in Crazy Horse, Painted Bride, Portland Review, Permafrost, Diner, Bolts of Silk, and Prick of the Spindle. She holds an MFA from Portland State University and teaches writing at Portland Community College.