January 29, 2023

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“Disappear – My Euridyce” [by Lynn Emanuel] – The best American poetry

Disappear – My Euridyke

1967, New York, East River

I had learned to hate from Jackson Pollock
Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus

Those white, white sheets–
thrown covers

the unmade bed of the breakers and Venus
unkempt, unkempt, always fair

decanted from sleep, that hair—
a serpentine peignoir thrown over her shoulders—

I scrubbed my palette to nothing
but the colors of washing water and zinc buckets.

And embraced the iron light
between Broadway and Bowery,

and under the street lamps
the junkies, fellow bees in a hive of misery.

I loved my oppression
went up Cherry Street to the docks and–

–there–washed out,
dreamy, creepy,

drowned in her last experiment,
was a rat—

The dry carnation of her eye sparkled up.
If I bent down I would see

into the broken
swarm of bones—

I didn’t look at her
stared at me from the window of her underworld.

About death
I didn’t care.

I believed my hand
could open any lock.

And even if not
as i progressed

I haven’t looked back once.

from the New York Review of Books