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St. Valentine's Day

Jennifer Footman
From:   St. Valentines Day. New Brunswick: Broken Jaw Press, 1995.

So many ducks on the Round Pond
and the pond not round at all. Me, six,
a bag of rationed bread in one hand, holding my father's
hand in the other. We are feeding ducks, dead
trees all around us, headless, rootless.

At the time of his dying
—an existence later—
he said his skin had been tanned into a purse;
his eyes were the eyes of Oedipus;
his ears were filled by teeth of the dead.

He fingered the rough edge of his coffin,
gathered splinters deep in his flesh,
wondered if he'd ever cast a hard-on once more
or had his parts burnt so dry

not even a vacuum was left? He doubted
if he'd ever fill his head again with the rich
black orchid stink of sex or had all the women
in the world rejected fish in favour of white bread?

He plucked worms from dirt, trembled
at the touch of feathers drifting past his face.

We talked about that female crow
blackened by diamonds. She cocked her head,
searched for his eyes and pecked out his tongue
her body flying into the mouth of the sun.

After his death a man knocked on my door,
said all the rivers were full of blood
and clouds gathered. He asked
me to go with him through the glades of heaven.

He stood there looking blank. I stared back
at him quite rudely--sauce for goose is sauce
for gander. It was his mission on earth
to speak shit. By his long grey beard

and hoary eye ... the words sounded really familiar.
I wondered where I had heard them before.
He continued to tell me that stars
were to crumble each night, moon was to gyrate
without direction, children were to die,
angels were indeed to tumble
from their cottony clouds.

Bodies float on their rings
light as Jupiter rests in hers.
Graves are left un-dug while the digger
salutes lightness of being or not-being
and blossoms rot on the breast of the madwoman

who sniffs the sour fumes of hell.
Birds, their heads facing backwards
make nests in bones of murderers.
There is salt in this meat

it dries my tongue dry as the tongue
of the liar when he tries to find my clitoris
those nights when the sun has set
bloody as the pants of the raped child.

I only requested scarlet horizons
hanging low, soft and low. I am a child sniffling
into my dirty, tattered blanket.

Jennifer Footman's works copyright © to the author.

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