Jul/Aug 2005 Poetry Special Feature

Contemplation (Louisiana, 2004)

by Jayne Pupek

Contemplation (Louisiana, 2004)

If your body is a temple of despair, I'm the mutant whore
who serves at your feet. Some truths resist explanation.
There is what is and nothing more. And there is this:
I crave the rot and fungus of your love, a blue plate of nothing. C'est la vie.

Along the banks of Bayou Barataria, the shrimp boats leave each morning.
The air is heavy with salt and grass. Gorged mosquitos
cling to my breasts. My pale skin itches and peels.
Inside you sleep on, one calloused foot dangling off the mattress.

The kitchen needs cleaning before you stir.
Ants gather on roasted peppers left on your plate. Flat bread uneaten.
Last night we argued. I woke reduced, a kettle of soup,
kept over low flames, not far from boiling.

These days, a dark mood hangs over you like a shroud
We're snails inside a wet paper bag we can't shake or remove.

You give up bathing. Your skin smells like bacon fat and leeks.
You pace, can't write, can't work. You cling to the same
sage-color towel, sour with mildew and sweat.
You contemplate going back to your wife.

Father Doucet speaks in a low voice. "Que le bon Dieu vous benit."
Last week in Lafayette, psychiatrists passed out diagnoses
like flyers announcing Open Mic at the True Brew Cafe.
Maybe borderline ... which has nothing to do with crossing into Mexico.
Maybe bipolar ... which is like two poles, but not the ones
where polar bears lumber through new snow.

This morning, watching the boats slip towards open space,
one by one dissolving in water and light,
I considered boarding one myself, just for a little while,
the way white egrets do, to see what it feels like to leave.


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