Grace Marie Grafton’s newest book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud/unruly sonnets, came out Spring 2012 from Poetic Matrix Press (www.poeticmatrix.com). Her book of prose poems, Other Clues, 2010, was published by Latitude Press (rawartpress.com). A chapbook, Chrysanthemum Oratorio, 2010, is available from Dancing Girl Press. Her poetry has won first prize in the Soul Making contest (PEN women, San Francisco), in the annual Bellingham Review contest, and was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Poems recently appear in Volt, Prism Review, Ambush Review, The Offending Adam, Theodate.
plain, open clearly visible to the eye or
obvious to the understanding
to reveal, show, exhibit, display, declare, discover
What could be more plain? We are a secretive species. Does that come from hunting? The best hunter gets the most meat? Or were there tribes where, no matter which one brought more, all was equally shared? Ah, anthropology, archeology. Long after the fact, we search and dig, want everything revealed, displayed. Fascination with museums. And then, there’s pornography. Why do we hide the genitals? Given our taste for secrets, it must be about power. Make a thing secret, concealed, and the one to whom it must be shown gets power and privilege. Trophy wife, arm candy, “I’m the one she takes her clothes off for.” Wouldn’t work if everyone went naked. Hidden treasure. The dragon guards the gold. The dragon who’s more than human, who has “powers,” who’s the warrior beast but also ethereal. And long-lived. Damn! If only we could know what God knows. If only we could know God. Naked. Revealed.
to set off or apart, to separate, segregate
to withdraw, to seclude
In the very center, the dark. “Rest here,” whispers the something-that-cares and you remember your request: to avoid the queer feeling in the gut, whirligig that threatens to hurl you off the edge. What to believe in when they say the world is round? The dark seems to hold no sharp angles, no gagging smells of motor oil or rotting flesh. No smell at all, nothing to see. When you enter, what will you let fall away? Your quest for acceptance, your need to be a seer? The future, a dark you do not want to enter without overcoat, boots or parasol. A contrary dark. The whisperer says, “Don’t worry, it’s not the same, let’s stay here at the center and let the spokes radiate out, not close in.” That voice is useful, though some would say, “Beware, ere those who can’t hear dub you already over the edge.” Hold yourself by the arm, set down your wigs and make-up case, set down your diamond tiara (or your wish for one). Soon you’ll be able to see the stars. And the world’s turning won’t nauseate you.
to allure, to lead on by exciting hope of reward or pleasure
The tablecloth is orange. Some would say silk, some would say oilcloth, some would say it doesn’t matter. Beautiful. The sunset sky, sound of laughter. Just the right amount of alcohol in the drink. Lift, not fly. What is the music? It wouldn’t be Miles’ “Sketches of Spain” with its sorrow undertones, its images of walking slowly down stone steps. Alone. No, more Vivaldi or Ellington, red Italian poppies or tuxedo and smooth cravat. Still, maybe more innocence than Ellington. Not suave but not ingenue. A purposeful choice to eschew cynicism but still, awareness that this is incredibly lucky. War being always, as it were, just around the corner and the offered release in the mind, release from guilt’s clench, will be time-limited. But oh, what a gift, we’ll take it. Slipping off the formal shoes, we choose the Hungarian fiddle player, hot feeling floods our blood, we’re wearing just these thin wraps, we’re moving over damp, tamped ground and our bodies are our friends.