In honor of the birthday of my favorite living poet, Dorianne Laux, I offer one of her poems for your perusal.
By Dorianne Laux
You called it screwing, what we did nights
on the rug in front of the mirror, draped
over the edge of a hotel bed, on balconies
overlooking the dark hearts of fir trees
or a city of flickering lights. You’d
whisper that word into my ear
as if it were a thing you could taste —
a sliver of fish, a swirl of chocolate
on the tongue. I knew only
the rough exuberant consonant
of fucking, and this soft s and hard c
was a new sound — querulous, slow,
like the long moments of leaving
between thrusts. I don’t know what
to make of it, now that you’re gone. I think
of metal eating wood. Delicate filaments
quivering inside a bulb of thin glass.
Harsh light. Corks easing up through
the wet necks of wine bottles. A silver lid
sealed tight on a jar of skinned plums.
I see two blue dragonflies hovering, end
to end, above a pond, as if twisting
the iridescence deep into each other’s
body, abdomens writing, spiraling
into the wing-beaten air. And your voice
comes back to me through the trees, this word
for what we couldn’t help but do
to each other — a thin cry, unwinding.
I discovered Ms. Laux over a decade ago in an anthology of poems. It was in a time when I was writing my own earthy, lustful poetry at a near fever-pitch – sometimes a dozen poems a day – and I loved how she took these profane acts and made them holy with her paintbrush full of words.
She is now teaching to MFA students at NC State University. My jealousy of these students sits like a sick knot in my stomach. To sit with her over a cup of coffee discussing poems and how to translate the beautiful minutia of real life, the split-seconds of memory, into poetry is one of my favored writing fantasies. I am “friends” with her on Facebook, and when she responds to my shy posts I turn into a hand-fanning fangirl.
Obviously, I think she’s made of Awesome.
If you like “The Word,” check out her anthology, “What We Carry.”