Monday, May 3, 2010

come here at once by Emma Barnes

This is what you said about my body
bang bang bang, three words all in
one row. Out of your mouth. I drove
past a greenhouse filled with lights.
I drove past a hill covered in tiny, tiny
light bulbs. At the end of the night
I felt my hips in disgust, my head
tipped back to catch words in my
throat. This is it all over. I am, I am,
I am, I am, I am, I am, I am everything.
The winter is coming and I can feel it
crawling, reaching for my knees. I
experience a sudden and unfortunate
craving, my eyes, they double blink.

Later in the gardens you talk at me
about whether a grain of sand makes
a difference to a beach. Pulling up
carrots my fingers shriek along their
fluffy tops. The grain of aforemention
-ed sand ticks over in my mind. My
mother yells to invite me to a wedding
I won’t want to go to. The baby cries
and I see you lift your head. I see your
breasts spill milk. I gulp back small
gusts of happiness that I am not you. I
gulp and gulp. My throat continuing
with what I started, here in this place.
If one more person tells me I am crazy I

am likely to head that way. You know?
I am not a great well, you yell into.
I am a woman with legs, a woman
with a long torso, a woman with
out the shame that you carry around
in a bag, over your shoulder, in your
shoe, tucked against your arch, no.
This is the week, everyone just cuts
me up. Broken milk bottles. Little
knives. They work harder and harder,
the more quickly I refuse them. That
is the small truth of it. That is the
secret in a nutshell. That is what
you should know if you know me at all.

Emma Barnes hasn’t long been back from a couple of years in Japan, but she’s been busy – she launched the first issue of her new literary magazine Enamel in early 2009, an another issue is due out in mid-2010. She's had poetry published in JAAM, Landfall, Catalyst and Best New Zealand Poems 2008, among other places.

'come here at once' is published on Tuesday Poem with permission. It was first published in JAAM 26, edited by Tim Jones.

Helen Rickerby is this week's editor of the Tuesday Poem. She is a poet, publisher, public servant from Wellington, New Zealand. Her second collection of poetry, My Iron Spine, was published in 2008, and her first Abstract Internal Furniture, was published in 2001. She's managing editor of Seraph Press and co-managing editor of JAAM literary magazine. Visit her Tuesday poem ('Emily Dickinson at home') and others by the Tuesday Poets (look in the sidebar on the right for links).


Tim Jones said...

I always admire Emma's command of line and tone - it's great to see this poem posted here. Thanks, Helen and Emma!

Emma said...

Thanks Tim for the lovely compliment. And thank you Helen for posting my poem!

Penelope said...

I read this with a tightening knot in my stomach. Then I read it again to unpick it. Powerful. Thanks to Emma and Helen.

Harvey Molloy said...

Marvelous poem: such energy, verve, and a willingness to go full-throttle. Great control. How can you not feel this poem?

Claire Beynon said...

This poem struck me as both a protest and a lament. Like Penelope, I felt a tightening in my stomach as I read it, had to remind myself to breathe. Thanks for jolting me awake, Emma and Helen.

Emma said...

Thanks for the lovely comments everyone!

Mary McCallum said...

wow - a whole novel in a nutshell - dense and incredibly simple at the same time - wow

Mim said...

Emma Barnes' poem pushes back, tells off, bursts in tense spurts against winter, against pressure, against motherhood, against, against, against and yet for. For freedom!

melissashook said...

I love this poem, the rushing fierceness of it..
(My laptop refused to let me leave a comment on it...)
I'm so glad that you posted it..
thank you

Helen Heath said...

I posted a comment here last week I thought? About how much I loved this - sorry it didn't seem to post. Anyway - a week later and I still love it :)