Letter to the house
Yellow Flag
The End of Part One

Working Notes: What I listen for in a poem is voice, voice released from telling and allowed to prowl or fish (or bottle). For me a poem is more enjoyable when the language is allowed a spaciousness (mystery) and percussion which narrative too often swallows. . . . A word as oar, charm. Dickinson: "We are always in danger of magic."

Letter to the house (I):

the woman pours out like water. This is because
her body spooks easily, because her hand
would not hold the summer. And so the summer
separated. And so the house inside the house,
inside you, rises in her throat. Would she make
this movement into sound, or even . . . but-, but
she is in front of the window, and the faces
watching-- and the ones that will watch-- scare
her into what she would not be. Hear her sing
like some crone? She does not. She
cannot. The house
(you) calls her crazy, with those windows
pretending to be glass, the ceilings that look
to be flat,--but-, but at night, when it is hot,
she hears the sky hump
over like someone dead,--if only to say "although,
al-though." And now here, like water, she
bends her head toward it all, as if to say:
(letter:) yes, this house-- this house inside
my house, you-- is the shawl
I have wrapped my face in . . . such white!

Letter to the house (II):

or why she would write anyway, for the smell
that was on her grandmother's hands inside the house
(and you, them). And so it is
behind the winter there was this dowry-- and quickly
it went, and full. The first word
of that ghost behind the winter she repeats on the paper, repeats until the paper repeats:
"There is earth in this air"-- and ice, and why don't
the windows stray. It is because, because
her breathing grows faces, because: under the sink
there are buckets, small ones, filled with water-- and
it might as well be said: she wants them some place
else, and she wants the house (you) to answer
for her, and she wants the smell of that soap, and
she wants it cold.

Yellow Flag

The woman

a moon-plant.
She might as well

be lost. The lights
of a distant city

reveal the way
she will not go.

The landscape--
a black star--

is not hers.

hang from windows
over the red

mud, this
desire. This

asylum, hungry

gathers the urges
that were hers.

The End of Part One

She didn't want to meet. She didn't want to sail. She
didn't want to turn. She didn't want to branch. She
didn't want to rip. She didn't want stem, planks, inside
a moth. She didn't want to speak. She didn't want to
light the lamps. She didn't want to see the albums. She
didn't want to undress. She didn't want to dress. She
didn't want to loosen the sheet, and it was tight. It was
blank, it was black, and it wound the room, the day,
voice. She didn't want to see. She didn't want to sleep.
She didn't want to scrub the pines. She didn't want a
blanket. She didn't want a shovel. She didn't want to
open the box. She didn't want a comb, feather, step,
sound, tent.

Eva Heisler lives in upstate New York where she works nights on the children's ward of a psychiatric hospital. Poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Ironwood, Kansas Quarterly, Montana Review, Sonora Review, and The Women's Review of Books.

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