Guest Blog Post, Maureen Alsop: Peregrine, Progeny, Pedigree, May Day

Maureen Alsop Without my armor I accepted the lashing. There of the mind, a mind mislead by spring’s snowpink landscape, my mouth paralleled the descent of soused kestrels shaped by April rain, as my rigorous objective became the utterance of failure.  Still I continued to explain. We’d made a pact, buried plastic morphine vials in the sand, read the status of waves from our impaired instruments.  Our aspersions were the little spaces between each crest.  Waves by which we floated in houseboats. Waves in which loose doors slammed back and forth in the wind. Waves, beyond which we could see pine groves, and a harbor entry where love’s limited aspects alluded to channels of reflection and echo.  But the waves were her breath and we were watching her die. Her transience, not air, traveled cavernous passages through stone. Hardwood walls and nagahyde sofas offered us optimism. We’d been fools for the other country.

Our seven mouths hurt.  Of teeth our hurt bore jaws clenching—where down within us and ourselves staring back up outside of us. Buoyancy started as “I” upon the lips.  This fragment was both worthy and necessary.  Later phonebooks, trees, all papery sounds mingled. A new brokerage of skin. I assigned ideas to the sound’s currents. Every silver scaled horn. Every owl.  I said listen longhaired one, listen beholden transient. Eat your crust. Belch marrow. In every pith-white-immaculate-clairvoyant room you must press your lips to wall.  Hear, some version of a cockroach.  Foreground.  Seaweed sound.  All this against the luminous glare.  What have you declared? Contact with a suddenness in unison. What have you declared? The root of my beauty is a lion’s tuft.  Tricky one.   So casual, so clinical. Because the dark lifted leaving a silver mottled snow.  I was told to live for awhile in the hallway where the roots hold the rafters in place.

That evening we wore our best country vestments, hair shirts and tweed jackets.  We looked at ourselves as foreigners.  Our voices separated the air with apostrophes. We thought we recognized her voice in the distance. We drank Bourbon from Styrofoam cups.  We were given permission to touch the violet strangle of her hair.  Her sunlight scented skin. Our Egrets shaped silhouettes offered gawky silence. In her absence we collaborated with what we knew of instruction.  We deployed filters to exhume long-term memories of pachysandra riverbanks. Moss leached our veins. Why did no one greet us?  Why were the letters in our last name the wrong shape? Meaning we didn’t know who we belonged to anymore.

Upon her cremation Fire’s accusation followed me.  Garlands of wheat-yellow smoke stained my words into an inarticulate tangle.  My tentative remedy was a sideways embroidery, stitchery of her face through long closeted collections of soft cotton dresses, walking shoes, stacks of bills.

I curtseyed the smolder, it’s geranium flavored boughs, it’s purple cockscomb, attic of shadows, I passed its notes downward through the mythology of my body’s cells. It’s processional of blue torchlit horns and grumbled flowers hungered for my grandfather’s early death, forgiveness. I would not be smothered by its loudly sarcastic joy.  Apprentice I was, not inexperienced.  I remain incrementally equipped.

Guest Blog Post, Maureen Alsop

Maureen AlsopJoan’s Letter to Mr. Jones; After the Fire Festival On the Feast Day of Mary of the Candles

Dear Mr. Jones,

Forsythias’ impossibly small blossoms were promised, but these mouthed back, earthward—yes because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you Mister Jones¹. What body part, what geography— indecipherable, my finger’s archipelago strums uncertain foliage where a second season moves through me unacknowledged. Today when I stood in the street, I felt my shadow burn its betrayal through the pavement. I recognized my heart’s sobriety as a true misfit. I wanted to tell my old lovers that they could all stand next to me. That the draining of blood from their lips was anger, not abandonment. I wanted to explain to them, shoulder to shadow, that when they passed through the waters, I would be with them; and when they passed through rivers they would not be overwhelmed. When they walked through fire, as in my song², they would not be burned³, they would be bridegrooms. They would not be strangers unrecognized by flame. Of all the things I wanted, the one thing I wanted most was to create the past differently. Mr. Jones, I fear my own interpretation of self as selfless. As if once given I will be permanently troubled. My words cross through the law. Our children will gossip, live with dreams knotted to the back of their throat; the air in their next century will be thin, their voices misunderstood, they will pray as if to a secretly dressed tribe whose image will be found sealed in stale envelopes. It might be someone like this who blesses us?



¹ Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man” from Highway 61 Revisited
² “My Song” refers to Leonard Cohen’s “Joan of Arc”
³ Isaiah 43:2

Thank you to Marcia LeBeau for the inspiration/impetus