Jul/Aug 2001  •   Poetry

Three Poems

by Teresa White


When I saw knives in movies—
say the victim arched backwards
in a chair—
the camera would fade to nothing
and all I'd see was my hands
in front of my face.

When Hitchcock handed Tony Perkins
the knife, I watched in black and white
as Janet's blood spun down
the drain

and when a knife blade grazed
my eye nothing happened
but the nerve's coitus in my brain
though I've never been the same again.


Taking Down The Altar

I'm slowly dismantling the altar I built to you.
The votives were becoming a fire hazard.
I couldn't sit all day with them burning
whitely in my bedroom with the curtains hungry.

And who saw me strike the matches,
lip to lip upon the dumb candles?
I've lost all faith in fire.

I prayed on my knees until I had rug burns
but now I'm convinced no god heard me.
There's proof of that.

If I'm lucky I won't know you by the time I scrape
up all this wax.


Marble Saint

I love you like a sainted stone
all marble in a French cathedral.
Charred flesh hurried to scorching bone
is new again and imperishable.
If I find you with a holy sword
and see you rise, I'll know I'm dreaming
or that this song has a chord
like any other with your name ringing.
I will not lie, I could not fathom flames
or walk on water with an upright power;
I would be tame, unconvincing, at blame
for all I could not do. Forgive this coward
who falls in love and knows not what to do
but worship saints and in my worship, fail.