About That School of Dreams

Christine Diane Allen

Letter to H.C.*

 

1. September

 

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—

2. November

 

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—

 

3. December

 

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—

 

4. January

 

Pleasure forgets the many

that come to mind, that come

to fingers, that point to one.

 

5. February

 

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.

 

6. March

 

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.

 

Sediment

lay on sediment

lay on

sediment—

 

8. May

 

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.

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