A Real Motorcycle - Poem by Erin Mouré
Unspeakable. The word that fills up the
poem, that the head
tries to excise.
At 6 a.m., the wet lion. Its sewn plush face
on the porch rail in the rain.
Heavy rains later, & maybe a thunderstorm.
12 or 13 degrees.
Inside: an iris, candle, poster of the
many-breasted Artemis in a stone hat
A little pedal steel guitar
A photograph of her at a table by the sea,
her shoulder blocked by the red geranium.
The sea tho invisible can be smelled by the casual watcher
Incredible salt air
in my throat when I see her.
'Suddenly you discover that you'll spend your entire life
in disorder; it's all that you have; you must learn to live
Four tanks, & the human white-shirted body
stopped on June 5 in Place Tian an Men.
Or 'a red pullover K-Way.' There is not much time left
to say these things. The urgency of that,
desire that dogged the body all winter
& has scarcely left,
now awaits the lilacs, their small white bunches.
As if their posies will light up
the curious old intentional bruise.
Adjective, adjective, adjective, noun!
Or just, lilac moon.
What we must, & cannot, excise from the head.
Her hand holding, oh, The New Path to the Waterfall?
Or the time I walked in too quickly, looked up
at her shirtless, grinning.
Pulling her down into the front of me, silly!
Sitting down sudden to make a lap for her...
Kissing the back of her leg.
Actually the leg kiss was a dream, later enacted
we laughed at it,
why didn't you do it
when you thought of it.
The excisable thought, later
Or shuddered at, in memory.
Later, it is repeated for the cameras
with such unease.
& now, stuck in the head.
Like running the motorcycle full-tilt into the hay bales.
What is the motorcycle doing in the poem
It's an image, E. said back.
It's a crash in the head, she said.
It's a real motorcycle.
0 excise this: her back turned,
she concentrates on something
in a kitchen sink,
& I sit behind her,
running my fingers on
the table edge.
0 excise this.
& after, excise, excise.
If the source of the pain could be located
using geological survey equipment.
Into the sedimentary layers, the slippage,
the surge of the igneous intrusion.
Or the flat bottom of the former sea
I grew up on,
Running the motorcycle into the round
Hay grass poking the skin.
The back wet.
Hey, I shouted,
Her back turned to me, its location
now visible only in the head.
When I can't stand it,
I invent anything, even memories.
She gets up, hair stuck with hay.
I invented this. Yeow.
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