blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Past Immaculate

In those days every mother knew it was important to be clean, for her child to be clean, in case an accident occurred and you had to be undressed from your bloodiness by strangers, your underwear remained immaculate. The body, your body, was not allowed to speak. For when the body spoke it was foul, it was always some word like piss or fart or shit, some phrase like fucking asshole, some primitive sentence like Fuck you. And then that wretched guffaw of the puke. What a bilious vocabulary. To be clean, they knew, was to be vigilant. Bodies should be seen and not heard.

In those days, bodies knew their place and kept it and when the ambulance driver gave you up to the gurney in ER you were perfume. This is what the old men mean when they talk about the past saying, I remember when bodies were like lilacs and crisp snow. And another nodding, And quiet, so quiet a ghost might take them for a spirit. I remember, another says, an arm bright as a kitchen. And I remember, one is saying, a sex of soap roses. A regret as hard as bleach.  

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