Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Poetry Primer Passage 090527-1200-1d(4)

Poetry Primer Passage

The poem looks ordinary enough, at first, dark-haired,
green-eyed and with a winning, cheerful smile.  Her gingham dress,
a classical shirtwaist with red, heart-shaped pockets edged with lace,
flatters her slender young figure.  She pushes her glasses
down on her nose and peers over them at you, holding a primer.

The poem speaks your name, once, quietly, as if taking
attendance, though no one attends her but you.  Her lilting
voice's dulcet tones grate with an odd harshness
that sends flickers of chill up your spine and cause the hair
on the back of your neck to stand up.  You taste acid bile

and as you bend toward her pretty words, you notice
she smells of ginger and wake-robins, those dark red trilliums
that grace the spring forest, sweet on sunny days
and smelling of rotten meat during cool cloudy periods.
A stench of putrid-flesh words weave subtly among her heady

freshness and when you glance behind you, looking for the path
that brought you to her, a hooded cape flutters in your peripheral vision,
a pale skull with dark eye sockets winks in and out of sight,
and bony word-fingers reach toward your face.  When you turn
back, the poem smiles again, sweetly and blushes slightly.

The primer's title touches the curve of the poem's breast;
the title faces away from you, but somehow you know
what it says.  Everything has led you to this:  A Poet's Primer
of Death.  Kindly and with soft eyes, the poem smiles
at you.  You want to turn away; you want to run,

but not many words remain, and you feel compelled
to read on.  The poem sweeps her arm toward you, indicates
a seat in her classroom.  When she leans over you, her touch
simultaneously burns and freezes.  Still, somehow, her fingers
on your shoulder calm and reassure you.  As she opens

the pages of her book on the desk before you, a door
swings open, a door of words, light and darkness.
The poem offers you her hand, and together,
surrounded by these words, you walk through,
leaving your crumpled body behind on the other side.      

Mary Stebbins Taitt, 090527-1200-1d(4), 090527-0918-1st

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