About That School of Dreams
Christine Diane Allen
Letter to H.C.*
You were right; I’m not ready
to look upon the face of God—
nor will I ever be.
Instead I live, I eat, and
right again, I desire
the hurt that led me to you.
Would it be a small nontruth
to open you up and turn the page?
It’s not polite of me, I know,
but I imagine you naked. (Clothes
might complicate, clothes might question,
might impede my speculation.) You look like—
You look like an S.
You look like
an A, your hands on your hips.
You look almost like the woman
fighting for my young severed—
Wearer of dresses:
you look lovely in the morning
your hair tangled like the October
grape vines woven thick through
the chain-link fence separating
my backyard from the high school’s.
Your eyes sharp or closed—
I am not ready to look upon you
behind the wall behind the mirror. I forbid it.
I forbid the knowledge you impart,
I forbid the parting of the lips,
the soft hairy legs—
May I say
you surged life into me and it hurts.
It swelled me up. My flesh, waterlogged—
I am far too full, drowning
under this small non—
Pleasure forgets the many
that come to mind, that come
to fingers, that point to one.
Some arbitrary point really
let me loose at one time
and it was the you
in me that turned right
at the word, and right again
and again, right again, line by
line, the index tracing ear
lobe, hair line, neck vein, breast
bone, tracing me back, back
to the button I left behind.
It waited there. Subject on/to/in
subject. Ambiguity worn thin,
a tasteless mass of truthless-telling
released, removed, displaced.
It was the you in print
that let me live, and now I fear
it’s the me calling the shots—
infertile, lock-jawed, divested
of the humility that freed me,
that orange tower burning bright
now burnt to the ground, ash only,
impervious to wind and rain yet,
just this side of the great divide.
7. Late March
Pleasure recalls the readiness
that forgets how it got there,
that forgot to ask permission
to stall. Mammary glitch,
memory loss, loss of
keys, keys in the fridge,
heat on high, crows in the corner—
Enter the swan dive, dresses snapping
in the wind like white flags. Still, the canyon
faced of redrock and flash flood
is cool, golden, almost silent
this time of morning.
Once, the sea rushed here
through towers, arcs, needles.
The waves, for a time, were some
thing a thing could count on, drawing
white or red sand out, pushing almost
as much back in. Pale sea shells
rattled the graves of
other sea shells.
lay on sediment
I see you’ve written a book I’ve missed:
Dream I Tell You. I’ll follow you there—
and there and there and there—to which
country of countries? To my country,
my only country, I suppose. To
my own brute, my brutishness, my innocence,
if I have it left. Maybe I’ll catch a glimpse
of days past, of me, the reader,
of you, the poet, of knowing, that lie. I’ll wave
from my butte to yours, shielding
my eyes from the uncompromising desert sun.
I’ll imagine you waving back with both hands,
another scintillating Y,
a dream in finest form.
From Helene Cixous,The Newly Born Woman. “Sorties: Out and Out: Attacks/Ways Out/Forays.” Theory and History of Literature, Volume 24. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press 1993.
Christine Diane Allen authored The Arc and the Sediment, a novel (Utah State University Press 2007), which won a best-novel competition and best book-length work publication prize from the Utah Arts Council as well as a silver IPPY and honorable mention from the James Jones First Novel Competition. Her short-fiction collection There’s Death in the Balloon won best collection of short fiction and bridesmaid-variety commendations from the Drue Heinz, the St. Lawrence Book Award, and the Lorian Hemingway, among others. Likewise her poetry collection, Multiple Choice Questions, won second place from the Utah Arts Council. She just finished a doctorate in creative writing at the University of Utah, where she got an MFA and later taught writing and finished a hybrid memoir-novel-codex titled Spolia. She has two great daughters and some semi-surly cats. She runs an editing business…sometimes.