A Kind of Odyssey

Leda and the SwanThis is the mind’s stopped channels. A refusal
to pull from its annals what it is to be another. Someone’s always rushing

up to smother them, blockade runners, gunning
for me. On a raid. Little begging approbates— appropriate me, Emily,

they cry— starving children, out of Dickens. And me,
the chicken, always some excuse: A half-dozen ducks, then

the goose, and since I’m told that I can’t be that woman, draped
and disappeared, a footless ghost, host to whoever lies

beneath that swishing sheath— or knuckle down and crawl
inside the fear of the daughter of the Saudi man who raped her

till she died— or the Saudi man, $50 in hand, the fee
he paid to kill her, half with matches, half

with bare and brutal hands, and then go free— then, fine. Some lines
hold firm. And all art fails, the wind slacked

from its sails, when it lacks imagination, a kind of pagination
of the mind— see, you end here, and she begins, it tells me, closes

off these swellings, passings from container to contained, flounders
with reminders, drains the cup that tries to runneth over— no sir. Nothing

to see here. Look— September, 2001: I lived with angry dykes, I drank every
night, and more than once I traded kisses, flashed my tits, for beer— and is it, then,

impossible to steer me from the college girl I acted in the day to the woman, dancing
on display, for the men who, come that Tuesday, strongarm jet planes

off their plotted courses? Ok, there are forces in the world I fail to grasp. But,
look— my pointed toe’s an asp that snakes around a greased and gleaming

pole, my head dips low: and nothing is engendered. Nothing
gained. This is exchange. Just a woman. Just some men. Impossible,

the cleric later says, for Muslim men to drink, to gamble, handle
money into flesh. Impossible— I fail again— to conjure men

who mark themselves for death, can count their waning breaths
while staring at my breasts from the darkness down below. A show. A go-go

bar. A sudden blow. Elizabeth, NJ. And outside, stacks of gleaming power
plants, and rows of bricked in homes, America, America, I still love you,

so— and the quieter I am, the farther out you go— oh say what you see, what
you wish you could know— two dark men watch my body twist and flow,

I wake up to a brand new world. So what? So what of topless
towers, burnt, of knowledge held and dropped, of bodies falling

on the flaming wind: over, over, over, and again, until I see it with my eyes
shut tight? Until it isn’t real? I will say what I feel. I could have been

her, up there, unwitting, as history eyes my back, my naked haunch, as I
eye history— is this the face that launched?— no. It’s not. It’s you. It’s me.


About evanduyne

I'm assistant professor of writing at Stockton University, where I'm also affiliated faculty in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. I work on Sylvia Plath, contingent faculty, and creative writing around trauma and domestic violence.
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One Response to A Kind of Odyssey

  1. edigiorgio says:

    Gorgeous! Will send you comments via email!!

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