“Descent With Rope” by Joanne D. Dwyer

A new poem by Joanne D. Dwyer (poetry, ’09) appears in the current issue of New England Review:

Descent by Rope
If a throne is an angel of the seventh-highest order
out of nine possible heights, and you suffer vertigo,
will you be satisfied being a bottom floor angel?
Bargain basement, Everything’s-On-Sale angel?
The South American woman at the gym whose sweatpants
have the word Angel stenciled vertically down the leg
will not look me in the eye and is almost always breaking
the no-cell-phone rule, talking so heatedly, a la Latina,
while on the rowing machine. In the locker room I am a voyeur
watching her blow-dry her hair, even in summer, when the sun
would do the same without injury. Her hair as thin as a queen
ant’s wing which unfastens the instant she mates. I told you last
night that it is ironic that I have seen more women’s breasts than you.
I recently laid my eyes on the prototype adolescent Eve –
the most beauteous body I have ever seen coming out of a public shower.
A body that illuminated more than any library of books or cave of
echolocating microbats or remnants of chandeliers. And understood
for the first time the concupiscence of the old for the young.
And just as it is well past the era of electrocuting communists,
it is well past the era of seeing the snake as penis or messenger-boy
of the devil. The new symbology of the snake is exemplified in the new
creed of the three R’s: The rinds of limes under a pillow, a bottle of Rogaine
and the unharnessed rappelling down the ravine without a reality show
there to film you. The willing, non-oppositional, come-to-me mama dying
and then the ingesting of your own death, as if death was a carton
of dyed ostrich eggs or a fanny-pack full of trail mix that will get you
up and over the mountain pass, even in the snow, with Nazis chasing you.  
And at the fin de siècle, after crossing the border, you are reunited with
your soul mate or your first childhood pet. And for the lucky,
the two are one in the same. You wed soon after your frostbite heals,
but before a background check is run on you. And for
the lucky, your betrothed doesn’t care you were a stripper
and that most of your best work was scribed in that era
when you were saturated of libations and libertine slogans
and sale underwear. And lead in the boots of the messengers
in the form of Revolutionary War musket balls to keep them
closer to the saltgrass, to the humidity of ants and resurfacing crushed
beer cans. Look at the folded latticed wing of a hibernating angel, just
now unhinging its eyes, rising through the air like caustic powdered
sugar in the bakery warm from the bread ovens. And though there are
new forbidden fruits, and new machinery replacing red wheelbarrows –
the truck drivers are still pulling off the road to sleep.

Dwyer’s first book of poems, “Belle Laide,” has recently been published by Sarabande Books (2013).


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