Saturday Dec 02

Dordal Poetry Lisa Dordal, author of Commemoration, teaches in the English Department at Vanderbilt University. A Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals including Best New Poets, CALYX, Cave Wall, Nimrod, Vinyl, and The Greensboro Review. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Mosaic of the Dark, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press (2018).

Even Houseflies

The day they entered our house
I did not know that their brains,

if separated from the body,
would resemble a single grain of sugar.

Or that liquid is their only intake,
requiring them to moisten anything solid

with their own saliva. Their lives,
an array of endless regurgitations.

And who’s to say, after I’d killed
the last one – nine, maybe ten in all –

and resumed my reading,
only to be stopped by the words:

Even houseflies must have their angels
that it wasn’t the angels themselves

who sent me to learn how they live.
Who’s to say this wasn’t the gesture

of some lively god pressing a small coin
into my heart. Like my mother

who won’t stay dead, her eyes
fixing into mine like she knows

I’m her best chance. Like Ötzi
who keeps coming back – as shaman

or shepherd – in a cloak of woven grass;
the ease with which he walks

on hilly terrain. Or Pliny –
studious and brave – drawing a bath

too close to Pompeii. Who’s to say
these aren’t the gestures of gods. Active

during the day, but at night they rest
in the corners of rooms, where their eyes –

their thousands and thousands of eyes –
make a mosaic of the dark.

Last Poem about My Mother

This is my mother watching her heart –
dark, liquid motion on the screen beside her.

How she called it beautiful. This is please
and thank you, and softens the wounds

of strangers. This is a body’s last words; what is left
after fire. This is cavities in the bones of a bird

that make flight possible, and flits unseen
through every gesture and word.

This is my mother and a way out of my mother;
a place I can say that I left.