What She Knows

Marcia Roberts

BlazeVOX [books]
Buffalo, New York

What She Knows by Marcia Roberts Copyright © 2010 Published by BlazeVOX [books] All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews. Printed in the United States of America Book design by Geoffrey Gatza Cover print, a collagraph with chine-collé, by Marcia Roberts First Edition ISBN: 9781935402305 Library of Congress Control Number 2009944210 BlazeVOX [books] 303 Bedford Ave Buffalo, NY 14216 Editor@blazevox.org

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I. Golden Lamentation Calendar

what she knows folds folds in the body a slight cock of the head reveals a bougainvillea in the corner outside the early bird sings his soft snoring she knows it’s been a while since she said the words

1 the door jolts me its small squares of beveled glass whether to cross traditional lines or paint the old door red

2 Jon Bon Jovi sings I’ll Be There for You but where will the next poem come from? the old man jogs, his left arm dangling, his body leaning in the dream, my sister turns her face away


3 our sidewalk curves, extends across Northridge to people we barely know an old couple lives to the back of us John says the wife comes out on her broom at night

4 Save Tibet – fluttering prayer papers folded in an envelope I throw them away who can save anything?


5 She is five, sitting for a portrait in blue taffeta, refusing to smile, her palms sweating, brown curls perfected and tied with ribbon. She observes the mother beside the door and the photographer, who tries to make her laugh.

6 We find an oval of rocks overlooking the river, and later Josephine makes a home movie I’ve never seen. How do I look – how do I move? And who placed those rocks on the hill?


7 today in Berkeley there’s a Pound class it is 9-11, and men mow the neighbor’s grass in this space I look for William’s bomb and Olson’s skin grass grows, and grackles wait

8 Mike makes small cuts for mortise and tenon joints. I cannot spell those terms. I couldn’t spell kernel the other day, and I puzzled over immaculate last night.


9 You ask if my mother lied. I say I don’t think so. This is a lie because she told everyone Grandpa was dead before he died. She lied about where he was buried, and she said she wasn’t afraid of snakes or tornadoes or death.

10 I step from the stage into darkness, try to sit on the grass and fall over, saying to the guy next to me, that’s what happens when you are 60. Yesterday I pulled on the hose and fell backwards into the impatiens, flattening them, and I painted the bathroom walls for the fourth time in three days.


11 At HEB we watch as a boy runs the shopping cart into his mother. She turns and asks him, Do you want me to fall now or later? Turks and Kurds are at it. Someone will fall…or falter. Bhutto returns, and bombs greet her.

12 Spain slips away from us, nights in paradors, mornings on patios. I think, Don’t you slip away from me, too… Before our cat died, I distanced myself from her, keeping our exchanges brief and knowing.


13 Shards from dreams: buried dishes I’m trying to rescue Jane by the side of the road. Your candle falls: the glass holder shatters. I am the one with her name misspelled, the one who paints tissue paper orchids.

14 Missy and I watch monarchs flutter from one lantana bloom to another, and she says, it’s a shame their lives are so short.


The moon is full. The dress wasn’t blue moiré, and I’m not on the cusp of being a Scorpio. Each night before Halloween, we eat a small Snickers bar.

16 My daughter-in-law is a descendant of the Choctaw. This gives me great pleasure, and Mary Big Eagle would be pleased, too, the knife removed.


Someone stole my identity – a hacker or an on-line purchase. Today I lock all doors and remain inside, listening to acorns hit the roof and roll off.

18 When you told me he asked why Mommy danced on the white rug, I should have said I dance on the white rug because of you.


19 we are in a ballroom the general gives his speech my heart pounds, my head swirls no protocol can keep me in this place

20 This pen is from St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain. I send them money – not much and not often, unlike Mother’s $100 checks to Oral Roberts. You are gone and cannot tell stories about her smoking in the privy and kicking out a car window in California.


21 Lamentations surprises me with its poetry and reference to gold. I remember valleys and shadows, not poetry in scriptures. A vet in the cafeteria says, praise jesus. thing’s been good, ever since I found the lord. I didn’t find nothin’ wrong with the scriptures.

22 I sweep Halloween from the walkway – a pink feather and a black fingernail with a skull. I push those and a lens from sunglasses into the dustpan, burying them in leaves and acorns.


23 a water-colored life brings images to the edge you adjust the edge if needed and allow the background to define autumn’s leaf load your brush don’t be afraid

24 The poet writes of sex and lovers and husbands. What are lamentations? And why do I write them?


25 In Madrid, Alicia and I joke about Tuesday the 13th, an unlucky day if you’re Spanish. She says she’s American today since she’s married to one, but when it’s Friday the 13th that all changes. Her father was a member of Franco’s cabinet, and when we’re out, people come to her and kiss her on both cheeks, saying, Hola, Guapa. She is unpretentious. Her fur coat is of no consequence to her, and she complements me on my cloth one.

26 I paint pictures of Mediterranean and Southwestern portals passages into some unknown Oprah helping Obama acorns rolling off the roof Christmas looming its expectancy for gifts and decorations and food the paintings may offer a solution walk out of the flat, dimensionless doors so childlike and crooked


27 I’m writing directly on the page, assuming these words are part of the next poem. How arrogant I’ve become, sitting here in the Adirondack chair, sun shining in my eyes, wondering where that snake is that Mike saw last week.

28 The impatiens last way into November, and the yard is covered with acorns. Whales summer farther north each year.


29 Here winter comes with a blue norther’s rain and possibly sleet, not with a snowplow pushing drifts. In Dakota, winds howled, and we carried shovels in our vehicles, just in case. We made forts and snowmen and paths for a game we called goose. Boys pissed in the snow, signed their names alongside rabbit and bird tracks.

30 I dream I hug your son but it’s the stubble on your cheek scratching my face we do not speak