Wednesday Oct 18

RoripaughLeeAnn Lee Ann Roripaugh’s third volume of poetry, On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year, was published by Southern Illinois UP in 2009.    A second volume of poetry, Year of the Snake, also published by Southern Illinois UP, was named winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose for 2004.  Her first book, Beyond Heart Mountain (Penguin Books, 1999), was a 1998 winner of the National Poetry Series and was selected as a finalist for the 2000 Asian American Literary Awards. Roripaugh is a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota.

---------

 

Daylight Savings Time: An Interrogatory
 
 
Where does that time taken away, those 60 missing minutes, the lost hour, go?
 
(Secret crease in the space-time continuum? Taut lacquered rib of a hand-painted fan accordioning back down on itself?  Encrypted note in the fold?)
 
If I undo the origami of that missing hour, will starred plates of melting ice piece their tectonic puzzle together in continental undrift--caulked back together into some chilled scrim, a privacy frieze shielding green rumors of carp so they can nudge silky river silt with their mud-languid tails in peace?
 
Will everything rewind itself backwards up the river like a reel of film? The rushed thundering chunks of broken ice?  The awkward entreaties of swept-away tree branches semaphoring for help?  The nervous, gliding-too-fast ducks?
 
Will ink lift off the page, hairpin-black letters a magnetic tangle in the air, before clattering down to the floor?
 
Will the quavering etch-a-sketches of geese reverse polarities, turn themselves inside out, and aim their noisy boomerangs toward an antithetical bullseye?
 
Will cut flowers in the grocery floral aisle clench back shut into invulnerable, vise-tight buds?
 
(There’s a small hOle in your left ventricle.
She zeroes in on the tie-dye heart decoyed
on my chest like a shooting-range target.
Yes, but if I put my finger here, just so,
no one will notice or ever have to know.)
 
What flukes exist in time’s wrinkle?  Might I meet myself coming or going?  Do you, through the safe distance of your scope and crosshairs, see me take myself aside and quietly confer?  Am I happy to meet me?  Do I make myself laugh or do I make myself sad?
 
Of course I’m not really there, coming and going, in that fold of time, those missing minutes, the lost hour.  But neither are you--waiting like lost change slid behind a couch cushion.  See, I’m afraid maybe you are that fold of time, those missing minutes, the lost hour:  broken ice, awkward branches, and too-fast ducks.  Letters unwriting themselves from the page.  Boomeranging geese.  The stuck buds glued shut.
 
(Here’s what can’t quite be gotten at:  I write you again and again.  Reassemble you with forceps and glue like archaeological pottery.  I shine light to make you bloom.  Rip you open like a clandestine letter.  I fuck and unfuck you, sing and unsing you, unspool you like a present’s tangled froth of ribbon . . . then reel you back in again like winding down the extravagant shape-shift of a jellyfish kite out of the wind-blown blue.)
 
Fall back.  Spring forward.  What’s been saved?  What gained?  Why does my body feel tricked by invisible divisions, indivisible subtractions, the shell game’s too-smooth bad trade?
 


Imprint


Yesterday’s air bristling Japanese beetles—all metallic ping and pinch.  Grasshoppers Jiffy Popping under a blue aluminum dome.  The last of the dog day cicadas, stranded on its back on the walking path, rattling its dry gourd of a body with a mechanical wind-up toy’s stutter and twitch.
 
All rescinded after a single morning’s chilled rain. Leafprints mold-scored onto asphalt. An immolation of orange and yellow burnings stilled to silhouetted ash and char.
 
(The imprint of your body fading too quickly from my bed.)
 
Was it an erasure, or was it a swallowing?
 
Or the shimmered turning of a purse inside out to reveal the silky lining?
 
Leaves glisten. The drizzle-slick dock shines. Sky an uncertain pearling of abalone.
 
(And yes, I have been turned utterly inside out.)
 
So what other choice is there, if not to simply give oneself up to the rain—to glisten, shine, and uncertainly pearl into this very absence, this same ache, this lambent and indefinite quiet?