Four Poems by Gemma Cooper-Novack

Like His Hand

He opened the door for me and the cats transferred
downward to escape the smoke that filtered
through the hallway, brushed my
hip like his hand. We lay that night on a craggy
unrolled futon where I could hardly breathe, hardly notice
the things that shifted, like his hand on my breastbone, his
gentle convex curves. The bedroom was a labyrinth, I didn’t
know how to like his hand on my hip, the string
of kisses to the nape of my neck like
tiny Chinese lanterns, I didn’t know which
way was in. At sunrise when I couldn’t even remember
what it was like, his hand reminded me, shifting my
uncertain thighs, shifting the air in my lungs.


Three Sheets to the Wind

The rain’s coming in sideways through the porch
window screens and my curtains are soaking; I plan
to wring them out in the morning when it’s passed, watch them send
thickened streams of water like serpents down the hallway. The earthen kitchen

will be striped with mud; the hogs will claim
it as their own, come tottering in, leave
tiny hoofprints in the vestibule, chew the edges of the fabric
that now clings sodden to the windowframe

—goddamnit when is this rain
going to stop? I’ve been sitting
here for days avoiding the cellar—I left
one iron door flapping open and it’s

probably flooded by now. When I was nine I raised
tadpoles in a corner of my bedroom, but
it got old fast; to this day, frogs croak out
of my bathrobe pocket some mornings. The soybeans

must be swimming by now, the grape
arbor glistening and slick. If the water moves
any faster it will hit the other wall,
streaking the mustard paint. I do think

the hogs are astounding, the way
that 1200-pound boar swayed and grunted up
the back steps on his impossible legs
and smashed all the back doors open.


Later

It lasts.
In the morning each of my muscles spreads beneath fingertips
that are no longer there,
and a bright clear Tuesday spreads its webbed hands over my head.

In the morning each of my muscles spreads beneath fingertips.
I am not enough awake,
and a bright clear Tuesday spreads its webbed hands over my head.
It lasts.

I am not enough awake.
Later the sunlight inches along the floorboards in long thin slits.
It lasts.
The unmarked sky stretches like a muscle over another city.

Later the sunlight inches along the floorboards in long thin slits,
between the trees.
The unmarked sky stretches like a muscle over another city.
It lasts.

Between the trees
a thousand shattered shining windows spring over the bus I take from work.
It lasts.
Cars drive in an arc around gleaming metal trash cans.

A thousand shattered shining windows spring over the bus I take from work.
It lasts.
Cars drive in an arc around gleaming metal trash cans.
The air is still warm.

It lasts.
My arms are long enough to run the length of the bus route home.
The air is still warm;
the street sparkles with lost coins and the shards of windows.

My arms are long enough to run the length of the bus route home.
Even in the darkness,
the street sparkles with lost coins and the shards of windows.
It lasts.


In the Bedroom

Due to the unparalleled skill of the housepainters, my bedroom wall
bears an uncanny resemblance to a bedroom wall. Look
at the corners. You could place it next to any
bedroom wall painted sage and I guarantee you won’t
be able to tell the difference.

Actually, there’s also an elephant in my bedroom. We
should talk about it. I dreamed about it last night, its tusks
flashing exactly like tusks. It breathes
whenever I wake up, and we fall asleep
with its trunk slowly stroking our necks.


Profile: Gemma Cooper-Novack

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s