I cram it with thesauruses, new ones from stores,
old ones from markets, pocket-sized dictionaries,
LPs, CDs, whatever keeps words close to my skin.
And jasmine from the trellis outside my parents’ house;
the place where red dust on the veranda flies in from Libya;
the place where I say, No, what he meant was …
No, what she was trying to say was …
And if it is lacey, I tuck breezes into the left cup,
sand in the right—a holiday in my sternum;
ripples that lead to my cleavage—an island
clothed in the almond flowers of spring.
And keys; keys to my locker at the gym;
keys for offices I use now and again;
keys to the homes of friends
who ask questions of life and hope
their plants will reply.
And coins; gorgeous, green, hexagonal threepenny bits,
abandoned when twenty shillings no longer made a pound;
coins engraved with Republic, United, and Great;
quarters for laundry and phone calls to people
who have gone to Apocalypse Now.
And scraps of satin I salvaged from an antique nightgown.
And the backs to earrings that fall in the street.
And the earrings themselves—
intricate pairs; identical, in love
but no one accuses them of narcissism.
And ice cream that melts a trail to the underwire.
And a tongue to lick it up.
And breasts that belong to another woman.
And a beard.
And, of course, my breasts.
And consider the lilies.
And stones from New Orleans,
the Baths of Aphrodite, Aphrodite’s birthplace,
Aphrodite’s Rock, and Hampstead Heath.
And Russian dolls that grow
smaller and inside each is a love I cannot hear
when I hold their open bodies to my ear.
And a poem fragment that says:
To understand me you have to swallow
And another that says:
Most of what matters in my life happens
in my absence.
And: Excuse me
while I kiss the sky.
And if my bra is made of silk, I can’t tell
the difference between a firefly and a star;
and I crawl to steady myself
beneath the enormousness of the sky, where I fly
with Icarus—together, we don’t die.
And lastly, receipts for the sound of blue
receipts for my sofa, my camera,
my bed; for lovers I forgot to return;
for books I haven’t yet read;
especially, this receipt for a new alarm clock
set to National Public Radio.
And the news that wakes me up.
- Elena Georgiou