Mary Jo Bang

Like Someone Asleep in a Cinema

Like someone asleep in a cinema who wakes to lean over into your space
and mock your open-eyed wonder. That’s how it was then, the eye
movements of others tracking my every reaction on the stage that ends
by design sans everything. When everything is over the shape of the moon
will still feign a bathtub boat in the underworld, at rest on its side. I’ll be
the flower I’ve always been, held by a woman wearing a hat, half-veil,
half-opened lips, the whites of her eyes matching the moon as the sun
reflects off its surface. The pockmark above my right eye will also match.
I so wanted to be stone but never achieved it. Wanted to lie to get
what I wanted, without wondering, What will happen if I lie? My face still
stings from the hand that slapped it. My teeth taste of some Naptha-brand
soap. Every act is literalized. The clock no longer flips one to two,
time is a hissing is. Lying is now in fashion. Lie down with me, people say,
when they hold someone back from the edge of that insane remembering.
What floats out of the mouth is the suds of tomorrow since I will never be
clean as long as I live. We watch unrealizable shadows and make something
of them—an eye watching the lashes fall.



This poem is published in Vallum: Contemporary Poetry 14:2 in PRINT and DIGITAL! This issue also features work by John Kinsella, David Eso, Elisa Gabbert and more! Plus a conversation with Pultizer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout and an excerpt from an upcoming chapbook by Bhanu Kapil. To order your copy, please visit our ONLINE STORE!



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