Poems by Gina Franco
passed over the shadows and put our soles on their vanity which seems a body
You want real? Draw your thumbs along
the backbones of fossilized fish
and press your fingers into the brush
of vertebrae, the singular eyes, fronds
of fins. See? Self-portrait. Osteichthyes fanned
in accuracy , bone hollows that are you
exactly, you perpetually, you
who thought yourself detached from sand,
salt, and cannibal rage. Now sit outside
this tank. Want in? Want to be sleek? Too bad.
But imagine being made that way. Whose reel,
you think wouldn’t relent before fish-
mouths, the O a cavernous word out of the belly
where God is mean and fresh?
A fish- an angel on the sill?
But what if you accidentally
knock it over? Is that okay with you?-
water slopped from the bowl
through to the sheets, where, deeply, you
are flying in our dreams, the dead
glass flopping around your head?
The whole thing reeks of disappointment.
This line of thinking only gets
you hung up on quiet, peace and quiet.
That’s you, resistant to change,
though sometimes you’re God and sometimes you’re
seafood, fresh out of the water, breathing your
big letdown, shocked to see what you’ve made.
Bagged, fell for it again. You look
to feed off something, and snag it’s eating you.
Say something, won’t you? True,
something like utterance has you hooked,
the gasp’s old motion was to blame.
Your little ocean heaves forth like a heart
bursting with insight, and while you want,
insensible, to be surprised, you think: flies,
it surely flies, neglecting that it seems,
only seems that I am I,
or that the wings of everything are mid-flight.
Here, after the piercing, comes a still small voice
drying over the rocks where we came up once
before, and found us, and turned back too late.
From THE KEEPSAKE STORM (University of Arizona Press, 2004)