Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1


Georg Treu has defined . . . the relation between the composite image and its components by showing that the first was necessarily more beautiful than an average example of the others; thus twenty mediocre faces constitute a beautiful face. . . . But each individual form escapes this common measure and is, to a certain degree, a monster.
     —by Georges Bataille, “The Deviations of Nature”

1. Birth
The body is clothed in wet blue socks, is that
Of an undernourished, normally-developed
Female, white, appearing approximately the given age
Of eight, measuring ______Doctor, I’ve taken your word,
And I won’t be giving it back.
Measuring . . . ’moment, measuring height and weight
Same as was reported to me. A silver wire is wrapped
About the throat, and terminates in an unrecognizable
knot-type, 45-inches-and-weighing-60-pounds. Wait,
Have the whole lot of words, then,
Only because you’re so sweet, doctor.
Previous refers to the measurements of the body. Wire
Extends ______Won’t you come along with me, fine boy?
My girl will tend your keeping.
If you play along I’ll leave peacefully
More on the wire in a bit. Upon its removal, hemorrhaging
Is apparent, skin is moist, First, you should look her in the face
And describe it to me.
Hair is colored ______Though I take them, I know inside you
The details remain, and grow all the more.
Hair is ______ inches, head is symmetrical . . . ’moment,
Irises are ______Say she is beautiful, that you are honored
To see her sheetless. That you and I are formless.
That we, as children, are formless,
Are all forms at once in the pervert’s gaze.
Physical exam will continue later . . . I’ll do this later,
Time is now ______Pick the scalpel back up and declare her beautiful;
But doctor, if youre unwilling, I’ll use force.
I won’t look; I’ll cut and cut and look away
Until you shut up twelve-
Six PM-SundayMy Father, My Father.

2. Attraction (Eight PM, Saturday)
Back in the alley, you and your sister raising your skirts
To pee in the dark. Back to the bootsteps like hooves denting awnings,
The lick of his Maglite, the dark that it tasted, back to the taste
In your mouth in the alley—
                                     Of the two all he saw was the blonde, and projected
                                     Upon her the qualities of phosphorous, then advanced, on alert.
                                     Look at her with a purse twice the price of his rent, and a neck
                                     That deformed every form in its path—
The bootsteps you heard were differently heard
By your younger sister, as they seemed more to her
The adrenaline staircase from only years past, the red
Velvet sack, the hooves overhead
                                     Barked Police at the girls, which of course
                                     Shut them up so that he could close in
                                     On the youngest, extinguish the torch of her neck
                                     And the way it was roasting her, sparks in his face—
While the hooves that you heard kicked deep from your skull,
From way out in Europe they clamored to snuff the unruly:
Krampus’s hooves, Krampus’s sack amid the seduction of holly,
A Louis Vuitton sack for the children—
                                     Won’t you come along; it was unclear who’d spoken at first.
                                     Get her ass in the car spat the snap of the clasp on her purse,
                                     So that he might feed her to the needy, disabled, retarded,
                                     Then wait for the meat to grow back—

3. Longing
To the girl: To the blonde:
To the throat of the captive: If you make
                                             One more noise . . . 

           —Were the bathroom any more like a dense Japanese forest,
           The girl, all grown up, might approach him in shawl and mask,
           And ask of him, softly: Watashi Kirei? (Am I beautiful?)—

The girl, submerged in the bath, to the man (whispered): Officer,
                                                                                           I’m on
                                                                                           The first
              —And the man, all grown up too, might respond Hai,
          And clamp down her wrists, and tear off the mask—

Quiet in the bath, the dimple in her neck
Absorbing all his touches, the wire going deep,
That the neck might have its say,

(A bit louder now, as if just nearby): Officer,
                                                          I’m on
                                                          The third
                                                                 And he
To the girl, cooling in the bath: Get up
Wake up (This time near tears,
Massaging the blotch that spreads here as ink,
To restore, with life, stillness
Of the fixed lovely form),

          —Might beneath the mask hide the slit-mouthed woman, were
          This bathtub any more like a mouth full of ink might the woman
          Draw from beneath the shawl silvery shears to hitch cold fingers
          To his jowls, and only then, would she, to him: Kore Demo? (And now?)—

Ever on, the form doing all she can
To decompose.

4. Envy: Survived by ______
To isolate said form, you overlay the warnings:
          Rawhead and Bloody Bones
          Steals naughty children from their homes /
          Rapping at the windows, crying through the locks /
          ‘Tailypo, Tailypo, give me back my Tailypo’

(These fragments you piece back to the night
Before your sister was conceived, alone in an alley,
A cop with no uniform, car without siren,
Man with your own flawed face, with no other choice,
Choosing you. He takes you to his dirty den /
                       For now it’s eight o’clock),

Each bogey’s deformities being arbitrary,
Making arbitrariness their single form in all its vagary:
          There was a man who lived in Somewhere
          He set his garden full of ______
But in the midst of beauty’s stark aberration
All else is deformed, is ever revising.

(Sown in bathwater, Alice where are you going?
                                 Upstairs to / my dirty den
That unborn beauty
In all its violence bears down the white sheet,
Bears the pall down upon you through the hands
Of your parents who cannot take the loss,
Who decide no more children would be best).

So it replays each night a bit differently:
From the trees beside the lake by the woods in the mirror
Of a scalpel calls your shape, bloated, brunette, Sister /
I’ve taken your word, and I won’t be giving it back.

5. Keening
                                                       (You must sing this as a round. When you see a
                                                       ______, everybody CRY OUT, and skip the
                                                       next singer.)

There is a man who lives in ______
Steals naughty children from their homes
Takes them to his dirty den
He sets his garden full of seeds

Won’t you come along with me fine boy
Sharp is the flavor I wear
It was like a ______ at my door
My girls will tend your keeping

______ with legs like toothpicks
They are like penknives at my back
They eat your eyes they eat your nose
Am I beautiful?

Tailypo golden arm now I’ve got my ______
Wambling off a body’s knee like a very eel
In a dark dark wood there was a garden full of snow
And now? And now.  end

Many italicized lines throughout, and all lines of “5. Keening,” are taken, with minor alterations, from the following nursery rhymes, songs and cautionary tales: “The Erlking” by Goethe, the Krampus legend, The Slit-Mouthed Woman legend, “There Was a Man Who Lived in Leeds,” “Rawhead and Bloody Bones,” “Wee Willie Winky,” Tailypo, Alice, “Where Are You Going?,” La Llorona’s song, “The Golden Arm,” “The Hearse Song,” and “In a Dark, Dark Wood.”