CURRENT ISSUE (#50)
"Donkey On" and "Midnight Ivory"
by Mary Ruefle
When I am alone I make a sound
the lord does not understand.
Then he makes the sound of a helicopter receding.
Then my sound goes after his sound.
My sound sounds like an ordinary bowl of oatmeal
that can sometimes be almost liquid
and sometimes effect a crust.
His sound is small and bitter,
capable of great strength
and universal flowering,
as if the world will never stop expanding
once helicopters are gone.
Of course, I can only one sound in a year
so sometimes it sounds like
Please guess what I want to tell you
And he says
Without a mother it would be good to know English?
And I press this question into a photograph album
without a comma,
which is severely inadequate to the task of
reconstructing a life.
So I say
Perhaps I am too handmade?
It is spring, I am the peppermint king.
And then he does something generous:
he drops me a private year
wrapped in plastic with string:
the only question is how to spend it.
From time to time a painter will pause
and put his paintbrush in his mouth,
not to moisten the brush
but to fill his mouth with fresh hopes.
I am not a painter, but I have a voucher
that allows my face to fill with water
whenever I want for the rest of my life.
Sometimes it fills slowly and sometimes
it fills quickly, the way you never can tell
how long it will take to finish anything.
For example an overamazed and sleepless night
inseparably linked with bitter detail.
It desperately needs more blue.
The bottom two-thirds should be an ocean.
And so I pause here, and put my pen in my mouth.
The way a child pauses when the ocean has
taken his shovel, and then runs into the sea
to retrieve his tool, which is only a toy,
and picks up the hang of swimming in a tag-along
way, and so has an imaginary friend
for life, someone he thinks might save him.
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