|Apr/May 2004 • Poetry|
Someone Always Objects to the Personal
I write about nightmares, and someone hates
the mention of sexual abuse
or someone has a problem
with ex-husband material. Someone always
objects to the personal detail,
to the blood and shit that comes with the baby.
Sometimes the baby wears
a white pinafore and a yellow bow
tied onto her two separate hairs; sometimes
the baby has just vomited all of the breast-fed
milk over my clean new poem.
My mother reads the preeti
not the ogly, my mother whom I call
for conversations about her, me, him.
We share inanities. If the subject
is painful, she suffers instant amnesia.
She laughs and gives as her excuse
her childhood, forgetting that she always
forgot when it was more expedient
than remembrance. And I don't fit.
I am the only person in the family whose name
does not start with an M, the only one
who doesn't immediately say her favorite
color is blue; they are all blue-loving M's.
Politically I am supposed to be republican
and conservative. After all, I am an exiled
Cuban. I am small and should be dainty
and feminine. My goal in life should have
been finding a good husband.
I have failed my mother in all respects.
I am a non-card-carrying feminist, a leftist
with no respect for authority, uncaring
of the wiles of femininity, a stranger
to makeup, girdles, and good men.
I admit to a penchant for rogues.
I can't explain it, but there it is.
It is why I am alone on a Pennsylvania
mountain instead of in a golden house
complete with Mercedes, jacuzzi, and fake
Italian furniture. I am the only Cuban woman
who hates the lurid poems of Jose Angel
Buesa, patron of erotic triteness.
My mother despairs of me, the Cuban
who can't tolerate flan, who would rather strip
on a nude beach than flirt with an appropriate
candidate. There were years just before
college when young men were paraded
who had the right attributes: glasses,
a good republican attitude, well-to-do
parents. I wanted to commit suicide.
My mother taught me chapter and verse
about virginity; how it is a lure that a woman
uses to entrap a man, how a woman
must appear somewhat compliant but always
back away at the right moment so the man
will pant a marriage proposal. The morning
after the lesson, I called my boyfriend
and asked him to meet me at the bus stop.
Once in his car I asked him to drive to a motel—
this from the girl who had slapped him for touching
a nipple. I explained that I didn't want a lure on my conscience.
I would like to say he took advantage of the situation,
but it would give you the wrong idea. I backed out
at the very end, and he explained away the blood
on the bed sheets as just a slight scrape
in my internal organs. I left thinking myself
a virgin. So much for natural intelligence.
I am 54, a messy housekeeper, a great cook.
I would like to meet a troglodyte who'd wield
a rock or bat and tell me when to go to bed.
To bed, to sleep, not necessarily to fuck.
I need a mapmaker, a good guitar player
who might lull me away from my causes
for a day, a month, a year. I have had
too much life; I need some quiet.
I need to sit, listen, and shut up.