Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 4 • Winter 2002 • Poetry


Mary Meriam

Killer and I are hardcore New Yorkers.
-- Sarah Schulman, Rat Bohemia

"You seem to know your way around the city,"
she says, turning from the piano
and the tiny statuettes of geniuses.
I send her a letter.
Flight patterns branch out
forests of airports
the letter is distant as the diamond window
on a ship to Venus.
The day the idiots converge
on the Hudson barges, with flags, cheers,
and souvenirs, I receive her reply:
pleasure in other directions.

She could have seduced me
but I went to the plucked earth
to wait, she's lost her power
to pluck me unawares.
Wet dirt stains me
unashamed and stretched out
the sky a mosaic of bricks.
Is it enough to rise and turn
brighter? What do I see?

The world forgot to give me a seat.
A pigeon settles for one
speck at a time, blunt-beaked.

At the entrance to the park
thick stench of dogshit
piles of cut grey branches
and a view of patches of dirt
where games kill the grass.
I sit on a bench reading
in a haze of cherry petals
that come to rest in puddles
made by a storm.
Some gulls insist on the sound
of terror, others just float
like fish in the watery air.

In a rainy city of no love
the pearly sky is only ugly
squirrels act as sensitive as rats
and every laugh's a grimace.
Roller skaters circle the park
plugged into disco earphones
wild with no freedom.
"Why aren't we lovers?"
she says in your dream
the strange girl you tried to love
who steals your sleep
in a drugged sprawl.

"She does that all the time,"
the drinkers at The Dutchess say
blood in the bathroom sink
from the girl who slits her wrists.
Frantic, I race
up and down the staircase.
It's 1981, I think,
the same damn lovesick
song on the jukebox
the slower suicide dykes, rooted to the bar
and my pale wild hunger
as I carry rum and cokes to every dancer.

No river in Chinatown
only a dancing dragon
concrete mazes
streaming lights under the bridge.
Fires of vagrants
flash in firecracker park.
Chinese wave their limbs in slow
motion while the pigeons stroll.
Crowds immune to outsiders
squeeze by the stands
of squid and eyeballs, and cracked
conch shells litter the sidewalks.

No one has the balls
to dive into a lesbian, except
Sarah, a true-blooded dyke.
Sweat crawling the walls
turmoil walking the streets
rage pain being alone
sex with girls
in your twenties nobody poor.
Just a country girl from Jersey
I barely survive the city
but I'm here too, Sarah,
and we might have met.

The portion of sky not blocked by towers
radiates light
that seems to have no source.
Late afternoon, the dog is free
and chases our voices
back and forth on old winter grass.
We want to be running on a shore without end
but already we see
dusk shifting the crowd's mood
from blue to a darker blue.
Almost in front of the door, we face each other
under a single row of trees.

We look at each other a long time.
The heart-shaped mole on your cheek
says love me. Your eyes embrace me.
We strip. Your hands and your mouth
travel my body as mine travel yours.
The beauty of the world comes alive
Mars and Jupiter shine on the water
resemble your eyes.
No black night possible, just the color
of rose, dying on the air.
This is the month to swim the days
half underwater, half reaching for air.

Somewhere things I love are buried.
Four weak stars in the park
the wind for once is fresh.
I want the roar and rustle
the dark expanse
the crazy leaves
It's just too noisy and dirty
for the dark-eyed fuchsia, dying
in the heavily gated window
rattled by trains
like I am.

I sit on the fire escape while day grows dusky
scanning the streets for the taxi she drives.
Eclipse night,
we circle Manhattan island
until she takes me over the bridge to her garden
just beginning to bear ripe red tomatoes.
Catbirds sing and ruffle their feathers
attracted to pale trumpet vines
in the suburb dawn.
Surrounded by scents,
I want to lie down
and flower.

Mary Meriam was born in New Jersey in 1955. She is a lesbian poet/activist, with a BA in Poetry from Bennington College and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. Her poems have been published in Bay Windows, The Write Dyke, So to Speak, and Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly.

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