Sunday Jul 14

AmyDryansky Amy Dryansky's second book, Grass Whistle (Salmon Poetry, Ireland) received the 2014 Massachusetts Book Award for poetry. Her first, How I Got Lost So Close to Home, won the New England/New York Award from Alice James. Her work is included in several anthologies and individual poems appear in a variety of journals, including Barrow Street, Harvard Review, New England Review, Memorious, Orion and The Women’s Review of Books. Dryansky has received honors/awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She was also an Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, where she looked at the impact of motherhood on women poets. She's currently the Poet Laureate of Northampton, MA, and assistant director of the Culture, Brain & Development Program at Hampshire College. You can find out more about her here.

Spring Opener

Some people think baseball is boring. Too much
shuffling, twitching, spitting, backing off from the plate
just as the pitch is about to be made. You’re not feeling it,
you’ve changed your mind, it’s a hunch you can’t explain.
Like sex, it makes you wait, and then it doesn’t. Wait again.
But the players are us at our least self-conscious, listening
with our whole bodies for signals the eyes can’t take in
on their own, bodies playing all by themselves, a wordless
exchange with an overlay of commentary from a box
somewhere high in the stands, a low murmur ratcheting up
to a roar as the sudden, mysterious right combination
of velocity and force combine with a sound like no other:
ball meets bat. Underneath it all, our collective desire,
swelling, reaching its pitch in the seventh inning stretch
with The Wave, the organ, us singing an old song we know
without thinking, corny, outdated, that somehow we still love.

I Meant Eyes but Wrote Yes

D says us long-marrieds need fantasy. He also said “fuck
twice and used the term, “wet mess.” B says not to be shy,
and that I should embrace myself. I did. It was OK.
J says I need to be inventive. She’s got her own fish to fry,
and I’m thinking about the thong I got for Christmas:
something about its construction reminds me of a muzzle, my ass
barking and growling back there, while my lady parts smirk
behind a lacy scrim. I don’t think that’s the rubric
D had in mind, but J, take note, I’m being inventive, I’m inventing
someone else’s body in place of mine, someone else’s eyes
on my body. I need an artist, chiaroscuro, a visitation, a game:
today I’m a cop, yesterday a nurse. What’s left to unmask?
Should I say that I’m considering one of those bathing suits
with a little skirt? At what age does that become kind
to the people around you? It’s like those beaches where nobody
you want to see naked is naked. A sign should be posted:
Warning. Nothing left to the imagination.

Another Message from the Body

We want to be autonomous, we want to go
back to sleep, back to the dream

where somebody’s petting us like a cat.
We’ve elected our own government, it is us.

We’re unified, we have currency, and we demand
more pleasure, less time off. We want exercise,

especially swimming, we like that weightless feeling
but we think the ocean overrated. We’ve had it

with salt. Also, we strongly suggest less tongue
and don’t understand why it’s so hard

to find comfortable but good-looking underwear.
Speaking of which, we humbly request fewer hours

in our clothes. Did we already say that?
By the way, we enjoy how you settle your hand

just at the oarlock of our hip. It makes us feel
a little nautical, as if we’re being steered

but in the very best way, like you’re making sure
we don’t miss the albatross that’s taken flight.

Plath’s Thumb

Thumb, I, too, chafe
at the dangerous

overuse of metaphor,
flashy knife work. I say,

choose a symbol—pilgrim,

dirty girl—and stick with it.
Choose one. Still,

with Plath you’re guaranteed
music, even if it is a mixtape

for a death dance.
And color! Red

as a Spaghetti Western.
Thumb, I, too, have found myself

unhinged. Intended
eggplant parm,

landed in ER. Turns out
shiny aubergine

skin is tougher than it looks,
and slippery. (Or I am

all dull knives.) Not like Sylvia,
whose fascination

with how to end it,
still kills it. We thrill

to her ever-shifting
kaleidoscope of possible

conclusions. She does it
for us. So we don’t have to

stand alone in the kitchen
by the oven, wounded

stump held higher
than our heart, pressing down

hard on the barely there,
waiting for the flow

to stop, that thin,
papery feeling, to end.

I Want to Rearrange the Furniture around a Fire

but we have no fire,
only ice coming down from the sky as one thing,
hitting the ground as something else.

I don’t speak that language,
so I listen, wait

for somebody or something to blink.

Until then, no remedy
but extra layers, uncurtained windows,

a bit of harmless peeping
as the day comes to its end
and the merchants shutter their shops.

I want to applaud

the backlit silhouette of a barber
setting his implements to rights.

Such an intimate performance.
Such a small theater.

And when the café parks a dirty bucket
and mop in the middle of the floor
I know what it means:

We’re closing, don’t ask for anything.
But I do, because I have to.                                                                                   

Sitting by the window eating soup
I could become the symbol for what
from the sidewalk looks like comfort,

but I never imagined myself

as hearth. The chair and footstool, the children
who want to me to share. I didn’t believe

I could strike that spark, ignite.

Or I could, but it was a slow burn
and so much ash to sift through.

Everywhere is by a door
and every door keeps opening. Cold
air rushes in. From outside,

the rooms where other people live

are deep yellow, like a daffodil
a few days after it’s picked. Maybe

that’s what I want. The glow,
and the distance. The possibility
I might enter.