“Episode of the Madeleine” and “Sonnet for Medusa”
Episode of the Madeleine
God was just twenty-three years old when he swung down from the Christmas tree lighting at the Rockefeller Center and joined the crowd as they stood in awe
Even younger when he graduated from Emory University with a degree in marketing
He took classes with patriots and survivors who clung to the utterances of professors
As they talked of Rousseau and Proust and
God remembered living in the author’s head as he strung together the longest novel of all.
Episode of the Madeleine:
There are fifteen paintings on my walls.
Each one a decaying piece of canvas that swears itself a relic.
I wake up blind because of the blocked window that only serves to amplify the tone-deaf saxophonist who studies above.
I wake up and cannot see the nude body of a woman I do not know.
Or the shamefully gaunt face I hid behind my hung clothing.
Or the still life of a younger me that smiles with all of her teeth.
Her name is still mine even when I cannot see her in the morning.
I turn on my fluorescents and stare in the mirror.
My cheeks have curved inward since I left my parents’ house.
My ribs protrude higher than they did before.
My head produces frizzy ringlets that stick out from my leftover bun and I squint at them while I stretch my tattooed arms above my head.
Side to side I move them.
My spine is like tiny sickles chopping away at my back and they cut deeper as I reach to my toes.
Behind my knees feels torn and
in and out I breathe.
My collared shirt pokes out from underneath my sweatshirt on my way to work.
My grandma gave me this shirt.
Now she is dead and I wear her shirt on the MTA to Brooklyn to clean dirty bottles for minimum wage.
The old woman on the car a few feet over is coughing so I look down at my hands and wonder when I will give up my bad habits
like biting my nails and not washing my sheets and misappropriating dad’s money.
And beating my nose into my skull.
I meditate while scrubbing flavored oil from canisters.
My hands will be dry after this.
I’m paid in cash and I like it that way.
I buy a tea latte with it on the way home knowing it will keep me up past bedtime.
Sometimes it is fun to inflict harm.
I sit down on a bench in the park and call my mom.
I take my first sip in between quips about royal gossip.
The cinnamon spreads warmth on my tongue seemingly up into my brain.
It burns, but all I can feel is the elegance of the tearoom at the Drake Hotel.
I am eleven years old in my basketball shorts.
We are two pigeons amongst the swans in their white gloves and petticoats.
I munch on scones and clotted cream.
The harpist ends her set before we leave
stuffed with cucumber and cream cheese.
I have cinnamon tea and I drown it with cream and sugar cubes that I
pop in my mouth when mom isn’t looking.
And I stare up at the mirror-paned ceiling and squint so as to see my frizzy ringlets falling out of my ponytail and I feel completely out of place.
And I smile with all of my teeth.
Sonnet for Medusa
Maybe Medusa misgives messages
Mistaking menagerie for a meal
Myopic milieu offers menaces
Marvels of mamba mane moored to mobile
Maligned by a matriarch of meddle
Maiden’s magnetism meant malison
Mingling the mortal monster with mettle
Maneuvering machines Manichaen
Maddened moans of the formerly mused
Misery meant to manifest murmur
Model mythicizing of the misused
Metamorphizing men that married murder
Perseus presents pater pervasive
Preludes punctuate the pants persuasive