Three most dangerous things for the blue woman
Three most dangerous things for the blue woman:
bottles, books, and a bed. She played games of death
with all of them, in real life from time to time but
most days in her head. Her mind is a desire machine,
she wants more, wants better, wants beyond her means.
Her mother was a philosopher and she taught her
the balance of beauty in Aristotle, not too much,
not too little, this is what makes enough, her mother
said, but did she listen? She became a poet instead,
shifting her mind into overdrive, liking the speed
and the feel of her hand on the wheel, going fast,
going back into the past and then flying away
with the fuel of her words and some wine and a
vision of herself as a courageous woman. She was not
afraid to be blue. Or red. Or whatever you wanted.
Or whatever you wanted her to do. Until she
took to her bed. Then dangerous was no longer
humorous. Courageous came and went. All that was
left was her blanket, covering a surrendering head.
The blue woman speaks to a man
Man, woman, child, wife, husband, boy, girl– these are files
someone created and put into our heads, to alphabetize and
tame and civilize what once was unpredictable and wild.
We were in the forest then. There were no boxes, no walls,
no windows. We lived where we wanted to play and eat–
it was usually near a river– we jumped in when we needed
to escape the heat, and when it was cold we huddled together.
Now it is always 70 degrees, even in winter, and you live
in a box with brown walls and white windows, can’t remember
the last time you jumped or huddled, instead you float
on your couch with your finger pointed at blue boxes that
download more files into your head: David Byrne, Scrabble,
Asian porn, Law and Order. Your eyes blink and you think
of yourself as lucky. You won’t even remember the plot
in the morning, but you suddenly have a craving for fries.
The Benadryl kicks in and you can no longer open your eyes.
You wake in the night and turn on the light with the sense
there is something to study. This will be on the test,
the professor said in your dream, but you can’t remember
the contents of his lecture. The answer, you think, lies up
in the attic, tucked away in the boxes of stuff you have
carried through your life. You were once a boy, now you
have a child and a wife. There must be more to being
a man, you think, some other file or plan you’ve forgotten.
You get up, make coffee, take it to your studio, and open
the guitar case. It is barely four in the morning.
You have hours before dawn. You strum a little, hum
a blue color. You are ready for the answer. You will wait.
The blue woman talks to herself after drinking
The mute bottle shines clear in its emptiness, like a blank page,
a wall, a canvas in the corner, the fears that wage war in the nest
of your head. You want to topple it, you want to win, you want
to tip it over and begin to be the artistwritersingerthinkerdreamer
that you see in the dark before rising out of bed. And then
the day takes over, the endless tests of broken coffee pots and
toothpaste to be bought and forms and letters and bills and bites
of sandwiches on the way out the door to the next meeting or
class or important date. You are tired of being late. What if,
you think to yourself in one quiet moment of putting groceries
away on a shelf, this test is not something you can fail? What
if those dreams are real? What if one day, you just got up
and began to write or paint or sing your heart out of that glass
bottle onto the dry and waiting world? What if your small blue
hands were enough? What if deep down inside you were tough?
What if you knew every answer on the test because you yourself
wrote the questions long ago, in the blue ink from that bottle?
How do you think that bottle got empty? How do you think
your skin got so blue? This test is not something you can fail.
You know it. You dreamed it. You wrote it. You sang it. You.
The blue woman returns to the earth
She is a snake that escapes from a red-tailed hawk.
This is a fall like Eve’s in reverse. She returns back
to the earth, a survivor. Infinity is gone now, except
for shouting. And she refuses to close her ears to the
sound of species dying out. She dives within her skin
where blood still runs like the tides of the sea and sings,
I am trying to find me. There is a beach we cannot see.
It holds the plastics of the known world and between
microwave dinner bowls and deodorant lie dry,
half-opened turtle eggs curled into death. What brings
the end of life is this cracking open of the secure shell.
It is the same for blue woman, now, as she prepares to
leave the new world and reenter something older.
She must have the wisdom to hold her shell against
her breast without cracking up. She stops boasting
of knowledge without seeing. She gives up growth
beyond being. She sticks with what she can do with
her hands. She learns to hold back. Hers is the story
we want to hear in the night as, one by one, living
beings disappear and we lie awake in our houses,
wishing like children for someone to make sense of it all.
The snake, the fall. What dies, our blood. The plastic beach,
the eggs. Our own small hands. What will become of the
land. What the blue woman shows. All of us. How to stand.
Cassie Premo Steele’s poetry has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of eight books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, as well as two musical poetry albums. Her next poetry book, Wednesday, contains poems she co-created with Facebook friends each Wednesday since 2010, and is forthcoming from Unbound Content. She also works as a writing and creativity coach. Sign up for her monthly Co-Creating Newsletter at her website at http://www.cassiepremosteele.com