Heather Bowlan

 

Conversation with Rich: The Manufactured Woman

Conversation with Beatty:   Carnage

Conversation with Harjo:† Nightsong

Conversation with Cisneros:† Girltalk

Conversation with Notley:† Diamond


Conversation with Rich: The Manufactured Woman

I am an instrument
in the shape of a woman, a woman
in the shape of a monster, a monster in
the shape of a woman.† A thinking woman
sleeps with monsters.

You told me a language is a map
of our failures.† I wanted to choose
words that even you would have
to be changed by.† We are our words,
and black and bruised and blue.† To imagine
a time of silence, or few words, a time
of chemistry and music — the words
are purposes.† The words are maps.
Under our skins
weíre laughing.

I dreamed I called you
on the telephone and said:† We are,
I am, you are violent,
arcane, common, half-destroyed
instruments that once held to a course.
Our desiring does this, make
no mistake. †It is easy to forget
what I came for:† (a book of myths, a succession
of brief, amazing
movements) entering the poem
to find there how the lifeline, broken,
keeps its direction.

 


Conversation with Beatty:   Carnage

Itís hard, isnít it:† the rolling and tearing
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† velocity, spinning the body
††††††††††† ocean-blue, a curl of the lip and a thousand times
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† the gleam of the black
black goodbye.† Iím walking in the valley
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† of a scar thinking
††††††††††††††††††††††† about moveable parts, the dead
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† world machine
in steamy back windows, there was a man
who scared the baby
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† in you, blue girl.† Floating, now, and nothing can stop it —
††††††††††††††††††††††† slow swivel when you
††††††††††††††††††††††† whispered:† Have you found
††††††††††††††††††††††† a way to walk around
††††††††††††††††††††††† the world, have you found a way to negotiate
††††††††††††††††††††††† the pain?† A girl could surely get
lost in that
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† raging foothold, that singular, brutal fire.
††††††††††††††††††††††† Fold yourself in&in, face
miraculous, I could choke on the body for a very
††††††††††† long time — looking
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† straight through to nothing, a long ride
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† to warmth that never happens again.† Vanish,
search for
††††††††††††††††††††††† the pin of light, lines
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† & questions, we start and end in lust.


Conversation with Harjo:† Nightsong

On a night like this
the stars who were created by words
bring us through the freezing —
the hours we counted precious —
when white ash covered blackbirds, I canít
calculate the velocity of fear ó
I dreamed my fiery body circling over
this house.† How to pray in the city?
We gather at the arrow light, the turning
of the worlds, we fly into the body
and we fly out:† a warring planet.
The northern cities.†† The sea at night.† The earth
tips hungrily towards the sun, the only
gesture in the world.† We cannot escape
reckoning and the shore, the sweet
wind rattling burned with gunpowder, the river
where it fed into the lake, was a woman
whoíd encountered a nightmare.† Do you know
how it is to hold onto anything in the dark?
Itís a palpable thing, the northern hemisphere
headed for winter.† Itís no simple thing.† No
story or song will translate the memory or
the fever or the terrible music, and no one
will ever forget the beauty of the red
leaf.† And so the stars spin
as if nothing ever happened
in the dark.


Conversation with Cisneros:† Girltalk

I could erupt sudden as
†††††††††††††††a fist, a pomegranate, an ocean, roiled
and murmuring like a mouth. And after
†††††††††††††††everything thatís breakable is broken,

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††a coup díťtat of trumpets, a spider the color
†††††††††††††††of a fingernail, the silence expensive, dull
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††and sharp.† There is much to learn, words that ignite
†††††††††††††††of their own gas, that snap like bra
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††straps, that swell like cork, thick as foreign coins.

All night.† Iím waiting for a crescent of soap
†††††††††††††††in a punched-tin sky.† I want to pull out the kitchen
knives.† You are my first allegiance, my seamed
†††††††††††††††tongue, my blistered eye.† Your heart opened like

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††silk above a prison courtyard, an expensive
†††††††††††††††geometry:† That mirror isnít a yard sale.
††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Itís a fire.† And these are remnants of what
†††††††††††††††could be carried out and saved.

In public or alone, I recognize the origami
†††††††††††††††of the brain.† Sometimes, a woman needs
the ripcord, the crooked spin
†††††††††††††††of horizon, the yank of life to bring her

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††back to earth.† This night I claimed as
†††††††††††††††mine.† Listen — cars roar by.†


Conversation with Notley:† Diamond

This desert
with nothing between
me and it, I have
such an appetite —
we name us and then
we are lost, but if thereís delicacy
to be cultivated — malachite,
turquoise,
crystal — this is
a distinction, radical
contact, a scarlet cloth
torn.† Am I ready
for the world of you — a woman
stealing thistles:† I donít
want to be alive is
a flame poppy alive Iím being
like that.† Whoís speaking?
— any poor matterís
glee and grief? — Iíve
allowed burning
inside me — I choose
words, more words, the trees
make glass clicks, a seeing
that floats within
my bones, love, that
glow.† You gave me driftwood,
and you
gave me lapis — I donít believe
your features are etched
in ice, you arenít
you and Iím
not I — why arenít we the
same as each other, the future
haunts this house.† Touch cold
words together and make
a sound, a tiny
red boxing glove — as if the past
solved anything rather
than caused it.
Airshaft — dark
window — a girl evaporates, Iím almost
terrified.†

 


Bio: Heather Bowlan is a student at the University of Pittsburgh.† Currently, in 2003, she is spending a semester abroad at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.


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