Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Poem by Nina Adel

Reading Brainard 
He jumped up onto
the linoleum surface of
the kitchen counter
which had held, the night before
a knife
chopped things like onions,
the plastic bag
for overnight absorption of
the marinade
and he smoked
a cigarette from a white box
as we talked and drank a
coffee as light
as the strange milkiness I’d seen below
my car as I crossed the Ohio last
time at the border bridge,
the Ohio, habitually blue-green
I told him I’d read
Joe Brainard and now must undertake
to write rememberings
like“I remember being allowed
only sparklers (and I remember only wantingsparklers)” (Brainard 71)
and suddenly the work felt unapproachable and silly he is
shadowed and loping and beautifully wolf-like,
claims he
doesn’t do things silly - but he said
in that voice called ‘dripping
with sarcasm’
“like this, you mean?
I remember
The warm, hot apple pie my grandmother made…”
And I added,
“every Sunday afternoon.” And he said,
“I remember the
warm hug she gave me as she
patted her apron”
and I added,” just before she
handed me the plate of pie topped with vanilla
ice cream from the local
dairy and told me
she loved me, “
so I contributed,
“Dear, sweet Grandma!”
And he said,
“I remember the first time I
a joint,
my very first cheap, sneaky whiskey,
that first bolt of
that snaked its way so deeply
through my teenage body”
and I said, “I
remember the very, very first time I
got the crap beat out of me behind the
nice, big, red-brick school building
where I learned to read those Spot stories”
and he said,
“I remember passing out in an
alley behind
a northside bar with a copy of
Hamlet in my
pocket, and the policeman who
found me and gave me a ride home to
that Apple-Pie Grandma on his
brand spankin’ new official
police department motorcycle”
and I said,
“I remember the clever little stinging poem of
humiliation that all my classmates chanted for me
as I stood up
to wipe away the gravel that
had been ground into my face on the playground
after school when
no adult was around to
appreciate the sonorous and melodic
and he offered,
“I remember the burning scent of the bleach
they used to clean the vomit off
the floor in the public rehab which
I came to know so intimately and familiarly
after six or seven relapses”
And I, needing to offer something now, added,
“I remember being trapped between
the bribing of a snarling dog at a warehouse at the end of a block and
the destructive embarrassment of being found on the doorstep of
a man, young then, like me, who I’d gone to visit and
who drove up in
the van of another woman and was making out
with her like
those were the only two tongues left on the whole goddamned planet
and all I could do was
attempt to crawl out
of the yard before I was discovered,
maybe head down the street to face that
dog till I could hitch a ride
to the relative safety of my college dorm
on the other side of a
town in
New Mexico.“
And he said, “I remember
waking up chafing and sober and aware
that I could never go
back to live with the wife and children
I loved and
had no choice but to accept the life I’d led
which was the only one I had,
which would never be the same,
which I would have to orient somehow
toward some other
beckoning nova”
and I tried to offer something else, but
all I remembered was that
I was never one
to top someone else’s
and later that night,
I remember
in the light of a
candle we’d named Lupe for the Virgin whose picture
had been glued to the side with
some cheap kind of sparkle paint,
a candle
bought between laughter
at the dollar store because
it was better than the alternative
blackberry pie-scented option.
I remember the silent moment after,
the taste of the marinated chicken
eaten quietly together
during the careful
of forgetting.
Nina Adel –writer, singer-songwriter, educator and teaching artist - .was educated at the Berklee College of Music (vocal performance, composition), University of New Mexico (Spanish, English, TESOL) and Belmont University (MA in English/Creative Writing). She received training in aesthetic education from the Leonard Bernstein Center and The Wolf Trap Foundation She has worked as a Spanish-English-Portuguese translator, released three studio-length recordings of original music and founded and directed an arts-based nonprofit community organization. Amongst her recent published works are fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, music, translations and academic articles in the Louisiana Folklife Journal, New Sun Rising, 100 Stories For Haiti, the Tennessean, Belmont Literary Journal, Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies and Poets for Living Water. She lives, teaches and writes in Nashville, Tennessee., where she resides with her two children.

No comments:

Post a Comment