by Jenniffer Lesh
writes: I'm a CA native, born in San Bernardino and currently residing in
Bakersfield, CA, although I feel no loyalty to this city, just a kind of
sentimental fondness for its bleak atmosphere. I obtained my BA in English Lit
in 1996. I relish vintage Americana (circa 1930-60s), pranks, coffeehouses, the
Sierras, equines, and driving at night.
My poetry has recently appeared in CrossConnect, _The Alsop Review_, _Agnieszka's Dowry, Zero City, So it goes..., and other places, both online and off, locally and abroad.
these pieces: These two poems are extreme examples of what I like to think of as
"intuitive poetry," pieces written quickly and trustingly, the real
and the unreal commingling freely.
Ideas sometimes persist in my mind for days or even weeks, living like village idiots without villages, and then I finally write them out.
"The Designer's Last Creation" -- "Torture"
The Designer's Last Creation
fashion designer and her cat are staring at tonight's
witching moon. The cat, who has lately taken to mimicking his
mistress's every action and word, follows her from her office to her
bedroom and back again. Window to window, the moon follows, the same
moon that shines softly on the cheeks of all sleeping women.
fashion designer returns to the papers covering her desk,
copies of designs she must approve or reject. Because the years have
dimmed her sight, she wears spectacles attached to a chain. She peers
at designs emulating her style of old, slips of dresses in jewel-tone
colors. Versions of these dresses, tagged with her name, will appear in
expensive boutiques in large cities. Nobody will know that the designer
did not design these dresses herself or that she cares little, these
days, for sliplike dresses in jewel tones. Yet she will make a lot of
money for herself and for her witch-maddened cat, who has taken lately
to copying her every word and action.
pauses at her office window and announces that she would like
to hold the witching moon in her hands, for its exact color eludes her
dimming sight, maddening her. Her cat slips outside in a show of
obedience and returns, moon in paw. Surprisingly, the moon is only a
slip of paper filled in with rich gold, and the woman takes the paper
and folds it into a paper airplane. She launches this airplane out her
airplane glides high through the night, over the homes of
sleeping women who turn their cheeks towards its rare gold passing. And
all the witch-mad cats of the world sigh with their mistresses at this,
the designer's last creation.
finally confesses that she fears but three things: germs,
pregnancy, and blood as it appears through skin. This admission
certainly explains why her gaze slides away from me at times, especially
during certain intimate procedures. Specifically, she avoids my pale
wrists and their webwork of greenish-grey veins. She simply has a
phobia, she tells me, but her explanation does little to satiate the
curious twist of my mind. Wrists make her uncomfortable, she tells me,
unless they are plump and smooth, like the warm, pink backs of piglets.
Not like sows and boars, for those are coarse, dirty creatures, and Miss
Manners proclaimed once that a lady should never carry a coarse, dirty
wrist. My wrists are made of the finest skin, a skin that is clean and
gleams, but the nurse still shudders away from them.
One evening, I
grow bold, thrusting my wrists before the nurse's face.
Her eyes spin dangerously in her head, and I remember the smelling salts
taped to the wall behind the bathroom door. I have only seen smelling
salts used in old movies, but would very much like to break open a
capsule and wave it beneath this nurse's arched Italian nostrils.
"Why must you torture me this way!" she shrieks.
"I don't know!" I shout.
you had better stop. The last patient to do this to me ended up
chopped into a million tiny pieces. I am terribly afraid of veins, of
blood beneath skin, and this particular patient kept brandishing his
wrist at me as I was busy taping an i.v. to his other hand. I had such
trouble concentrating on my work, what with his wrist hovering near me
like a miniature alien spacecraft, that I had to bludgeon him to death
like an infant seal, then mince him to bits so that I could carry him
home in a sack and run him through my garbage disposal. Of course, I
became quite soiled and contaminated in the process, which meant a
bleach bath that night and one in the morning. As you can see, I'm a
busy nurse, and I haven't the time for such mess."
I said, and folded my wrists up like a pair of dainty kid
gloves, tucking them into my bedside pocketbook for safekeeping. One
never knows when a murder-minded nurse might appear in some dark alley,
and wrists are a much better deterrent than pepper spray, I'll say.
And my nurse
looms large in the doorway before turning out the light and
leaving me alone to the hospital's night hum.