"Cinema" and other poems
by Olena Jennings
I remembered the scene when her lover got trampled
by an elephant. She lifted herself above the despair.
Last time I went dancing I was at the level of sky.
I felt my body unfold because I was so close
to getting what I wanted and then it folded again
when it was lost. I am meant
to gather my losses. To collect them like treasures
on the beach. Soon they are lined up on my windowsill
and when I have a visitor, she examines them
like they are pieces of art. Maybe this is your longest
relationship. I am combing my hair.
He is the one who has walked on rugs of it. Was it
a waste of time? I ask. He answers, I felt warmth.
He needed it in the moment and I needed the feeling
of being wrapped securely in the evenness
his footsteps and the softness of his voice.
I’m unfolding the dresses. The red one
is for fresh starts. I am outside myself
as the dogs chase cars. My car moves
away and part of me is left behind. Those
pieces are scrubbing dishes. Those
are pushing my body into routine.
The new are writing in the dark and
coming close to me with petals of wine
floating on their breath. I weave
their promises between veins. They are
part of me like prayers from the past
I repeat when there is hurt. Hurt
exists in the temporary, when it is all
slipping. The city is slipping, its streets
rugs pulled out. Her kiss slides
down my cheek like a tear. But her words
slip into my mouth. They escape
when I sit across from him at the dinner
table. I am careless with them. She has
given them to me to do what I want with
and for him they have the jagged edges
of her past. Those edges fit inside mine.
His fork clangs against the plate. It is
the chime of his departure. The door
is open, the gap large and small
enough for her to enter.
INSIDE YOUR CURLS
I’m not supposed to like
the way you remind me of
swinging on the rope
to jump in the hay
there was a lot of roughness
and then the goat’s tongue
against my palm
as my skin anyway
that summer day
what if there was your tongue
against my palm
collecting my offerings
I listen to your heart
the way it blossoms
instead of beats
once you told
me you swallowed flowers
yellow is my favorite color
The tangerine pit still floats in my mouth,
a memory that is stuck somewhere
I least expect it. The blanket
he throws over me reminds me
of the pilled fabric of
my grandmother's nightgown
when I kept her from falling.
The dinner plate cracked in half
that day. I thought those
kinds of objects were indestructible.
I thought those mysteries
I wanted to be unwounded.
I traveled to forget faces, but sometimes
they were repeated in other men
who hovered over me
in countries where I stepped
out into the empty streets at night.
I didn't know the way home,
but it didn't matter. Follow
the stray dogs. Find
yourself tucked beneath the arm
of a new lover.