Tuesday, August 14, 2012

For Patrick Rosal Who Wore A Dress & Said, by Aracelis Girmay

A dude rocks a slick green dress once, for kicks,
& the whole gender paradigm has to shift? Come on.
Haven’t you seen the women glide down streets
with frocks so wide you envied them their summer
shimmy, the loose-loose dazzle of their dresses
above knees? Not just the knees. But the dresses
above the knees. Haven’t you wanted to stand at the mirror
as the sister you never had, so bad, you could almost feel
the bird of her voice start to rise inside your own throat? Nightingale.
Listen. Once, in June, the dress was green,
& I flew into it from the diving board of my sex
& I didn’t care that the trees were watching. & I didn’t care
who saw. In fact, I ran out the door, into the magenta hall
of the Campus Inn hotel where I was visiting, & a poet,
& I laughed & laughed & laughed. I didn’t care
that the rooms were full. I didn’t care
that people might hear. In fact, I wanted them
to catch me in the lit Technicolor of my glee & mistake me for
a flashlight. Or a discotheque. For a bald & handsome lola
parading my two strong legs through the hall, out
onto the street, singing to strangers
something lovely about the breeze, have
mercy. I wore a dress & it made me nice, yes. Once,
I was a man who stood inside of a dress
& loved it with my whole brain. My body did not change
from its line, before or after. My name did not change, but
I moved into that green, & it was easy – to swing
the regions of my body with new grace
as the street sang up to me from below, Go on,
& my hairs stood up like switchgrass
atop the gold fields of my skin, bless
this holy, holy chance to move
above the ground
like this.




Published with permission of the author.
Editor: Janis Freegard

Aracelis Girmay
It was an almost impossible choice, picking a poem from Aracelis Girmay’s excellent collection, Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, Ltd.).  Finally I chose the poem for Patrick Rosal (himself an American poet) because of the story it told: I could see him parading through the hotel; I could feel him “moving into that green”, moving in a new way.  I love the exuberance, the celebration of this poem.  I love the language and imagery the poet uses (“the loose-loose dazzle of their dresses”, "the bird of her voice").  I love the idea of loving something with your whole brain.

Many of the poems in Kingdom Animalia celebrate life and being.  Others commemorate the dead (such as the sad and startling Praise Song for the Donkey, about two girls and a donkey killed in Gaza whihc ends "praise the small/ black luggage of the donkey's eye/ in a field, flung far/ filling the ants & birds/ with what/ it saw.").  Family is an important theme and animals - snails, snakes, ants, parrots - make their way through the pages.  There is also a poem about the ampersand and one about the "r" in Aracelis ("making my name/ a small boat/ that leaves the port/ of old San Juan/ or Ponce/ with my grandfather Miguel").  It’s a collection that’s full of surprises, innovation, craft and beautiful music. I "met" Aracelis online last year, after we'd both published poetry with similar titles on opposite sides of the planet.  I'm so pleased to have found her work.  You can read a review of Kingdom Animalia here.

Bio: Aracelis Girmay is the author of the poetry collections Teeth & Kingdom Animalia for which she was awarded the GLCA New Writers Award & the Isabella Poetry Award respectively. She teaches at Hampshire College & Drew University (low-residency MFA). Among the writers she is reading now are Clarice Lispector, Shane McCrae, & Fanny Howe.



This week's editor is Janis Freegard.  She is is the author of Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus (Auckland University Press) and co-editor of AUP New Poets 3.  She also writes fiction and is a past winner of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award and runner-up in the recent National Flash Fiction Competition.  She blogs at janisfreegard.com .

10 comments:

Emma said...

Oh this is really lovely.

Mary McCallum said...

Bless this holy holy poem! such joy, such energy, such musicality, such humour!! thanks so much Janis for choosing and Aracelis for lending it to us ... here, I love this bit...

Once, in June, the dress was green/& I flew into it from the diving board of my sex/ & I didn’t care/ that the trees were watching. & I didn’t care
who saw. In fact, I ran out the door, into the magenta hall/of the Campus Inn hotel where I was visiting, & a poet,/& I laughed & laughed & laughed. I didn’t care/that the rooms were full. I didn’t care
that people might hear. In fact, I wanted them/
to catch me in the lit Technicolor of my glee & mistake me for/a flashlight. Or a discotheque.

Helen Lowe said...

Ah, I love this poem, Janis -- thank you so much for posting and I totally agree with your comments about the language, what I would call the 'luciousness' of it all and the 'zing' of life lived.

Kathleen Jones said...

Fabulous - it's so musical!

Ben Hur said...

It's great so full of musicality and vitality!

Cattyrox said...

Loved this - joyfilled and such energy in the lines!

Jennifer Compton said...

yeah just great thanks

gurglewords said...

Wow! Marvellous poem...so free. Thanks
for posting it Janis

Eileen D. Moeller said...

I'm so happy to discover this wonderful innovative writer! I bought the book, I was so intrigued. Thanks you, Janis!

notyethere said...

Great choice,

Jim