November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Emily Kagan Trenchard/Poetry

Instructions for the Living, Part II

Remember that sometimes,

the dead do not go all at once.

Sometimes, the dead erode

like an unforgivable hillside.

This rise in the earth

from which you better viewed the world,

so unmoveable beneath the stomp

of everything else, is slipping away

in an unremarkable rain.

But so it is.

Their roots have let go of all they were,

bit by bit, until they hang

an embarrassing naked,

limp and pointing down at what was shed.

As if you needed a reminder

of what had been lost.

You find yourself wondering,

which piece was it?

Which piece, with its sloughing off,

turned him from father to shell?

The left hand’s refusal to palm

a morning coffee? A missing name

that even your dear and insistent face

could not call forth?

Do not do this math.

It is one of those things, like love,

that doesn’t need your permission.

 

How I Learned My Multiplication Tables

One is quiet, stoic, but knows more

than he lets on. Two is the mother of

everything else, even odd and unruly

children. Three is the artist. Four is a

sharp suit, he sets up the deals for Five,

the banker. Six likes to gossip. Seven

is a freak. Eight is almost there, pulled

together but still trying too hard. Nine

is who everyone dreams about. Ten is god.

 

Old Love

They say this is what the married become:

An old mill, churning at nothing but the

water’s insistence; romantic in the forgotten

sense of the word. Sex will have

the satisfaction of a hard day’s work.

Your lover is your husband and no magic

is an everyday affair. To them

a heart must seem an appeasable,

if not bored,  thumping marker of time.

 

There is a growing piece of my heart

that wants me dead. On days when it beats

the thick muscle of my chest I am filled

with soured wine. There is no mistaking

its sediment collecting in the corners

of my mouth.  I am, each week, an unnamed

fear. Everyone who has ever loved me

becomes a fool. Everything I have ever touched

suddenly wishes it were whole. Every word

of comfort unspells itself. And when this

 

Tuesday afternoon, this Sunday before dinner,

this Friday before bed, is that last I want to see of it all

I find the man whose arms are old paths

and his mouth, a river. I go to him to drown.

In this ordinary small of a back I leave my ugly name.

This pocked and speckled shoulder I will bite until forgiven.

These eyes demand beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

until I breach from the sheets

a belated crescent moon,

glistening and spent.

 

God bless those who are so sure

what old love must be.

God bless the untroubled heart

that has never made love

to save itself.

 

About the poet:

Emily Kagan Trenchard began writing poetry while at the University of California, Berkeley, where her work was commissioned for an address to the graduating class of 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and she received an honorable mention in Rattle’s 2009 Poetry Prize. Emily holds a Master’s in Science Writing from MIT. She lives in Brooklyn where she is a co-curator of the renowned louderARTS Project Reading Series.