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Joy Katz

Which From That Time Infus'd Sweetness Into My Heart

When the lead crystal hangs dully,
           In the wondering as I write this,
                     During the carboniferous period,
                               Having finished the meze,


After the dog goes back to bed,
           In the continual hum,
                     After we buckle on our parachutes,
                              As ash settled over Brooklyn,


When the Moors ruled in Europe,
           Next summer maybe,
                     After the morning hosts uncross their legs,
                               Every four to six hours,


That becomes a basket tossed weightlessly
           On the day we adopted a boy,
                       When I step off the quickly dropping elevator,
                                After the seclusion of the cellarage,


The night before I left for college,
           During intermission,
                     When someone with a clipboard called our name,
                               At the ideal time,


Pending fire department approval,
           When I turn to the sink for a minute, the light switch,
                     Often, hungry for marvel,
                               After nothing in process can come transforming,


And then, one day,
           What seemed fair in all the world,
                     Before the tap water discolored,
                               During the oiled sound of a dog dream,


In the sun's year on earth,
           Oil, boil, squeak, uplift
                     In the evenings,
                               In the far back of the drawer,


During the cocktail hour,
           Eventually will I
                      After I have come down the hill and up the hill


After we have had a few lessons,
           At night my mother,
                     When she first entered the air,
                               In the equal sign of an allowed hour,


When the power went out,
           Every so often,
                      After the woken up and gone returned
                                When I asked her how she saw herself,


After my son has kissed me the more times,
           That becomes a basket tossed weightlessly
                     As the opposition receives non-lethal assistance,
                               In the wondering as I write this,


On a seventy-six-degree day,
           This hour, for example,
                     Now, passing between my shoulderblades,
                               Before the jury deliberates,


After four minutes (at sea level),
           As I grow bigger in the wanting,
                     As I ride around on blue ikat,
                               At the urgent intervention of ground troops,


When my father returns from Africa,
           On the anniversary of
                     When he gets his genius back,
                                After three sets of repetitions,


As you began treading these long thresholds,
           As Ho Chi Minh witnessed our names,
                     After the woken up and gone returned
                               Before the music stops,


When I try remembering her voice,
           In 1978,
                     "What next?" you say,
                                In the middle of a budget battle


That becomes a basket tossed weightlessly
           As a baby is handed through the air to us,
                     In the final seconds of the fourth quarter,
                               Halfway through the preface,


After they set us on fire,
           It was time for a
                                When the sugar is dissolved,


Before the poet began his third ode,
           Till at last, pop!
                     When I understood there was a chance,
                                -Which intifada was that?


Again.       Again.       Again
           (in the patience of),
                     Before you can say it's cool as measuring salt,
                                Whenever we rushed to the embassy,


When it was noon,
           In the middle of the night,
                     In that hour of my life, to have
                               A moment, so plastic,


As I stood at the foot of her bed,
           A basket tossed weightlessly
                     Long after the data is useful,
                              While thou on press'd flowers dost sleep,


As he meets with the rebel leadership,
           Midway through the onrush,
                     As the lead crystal spins dully,
                               Until she solved the difficulty,


Some thirteen years ago in a gale of wind,
            On a foil packet of shampoo,
                     After a prayer with no words,
                               When a spoon leaves a firm imprint,


During the last known hours,
           As the meltdown hit groundwater,
                    When we signed off on everything,
                              And then, a face: the woundable face of a boy.


Mother’s Love



Give the child up, says the warm blanket

Give the child up, says death, says
ruination, says torture, give the child up we will care for him 
say the men with carapace faces

You can grieve, says the net
you are my favorite, says falling out a window

Grief has rules, says the raven, grief has grades,
sidelines, crowds to cheer you on 
say the friendly faces smeared with dung 

you can ace it, say the men with beetle-shell faces


The baby is tearing up tissues one by 
one     each 
in pieces with a strengthless

On my eyelids the fibers linger 

Pale filaments of fairy dust, the hairs
of donkey ears 
creatures under spells

The fairy makes a sound like cellophane

The baby answers in lighter-clicks
pah of little flame

The baby looks upward into a weather system 
it settles round his head, a crown

He makes a sound like eyeliner coming wet and thin onto a brush
He makes a sound that wet and silken     
you are getting very 
young     you are getting very

Wake mother wake this is how they take your baby
when you are drowsy with enticement—


His voice comes like a veil onto my eyes 

Lightly a mother’s bridal veil crumbles

The sweetness has come up to my collarbones 
shows yellow under my chin
The mother is marked, tired. Tired and marked. 

“Let’s play on the bed”
(Don’t speak, it will pull out the slow drip
anesthetic of his voice) 

He pulls a book off the nightstand 
I am helpless
We are addicts, an old boyfriend would say
This is not that. But it is 
I am helpless

My hair fills with sparks
He is eating the rare book 
curls the corner back so prettily

So what, say the hairs on my arms
so what, says the water rising in the room
He is melting all the books, tasting them
eating the corners—

In between, that sweet voice of no-words-yet

His sounds turn words to eyelashes, a fine net
a white powder 


The baby pulls tissues from the box 

Out!   and then 
the next
one he pulls 

that one     one more 
with equal attention to them 

all the pleasure is up to my skull 
again the feel of my hair, new-cut, on my back
a rabbit asleep there

He pulls      pulls 
a white, still rabbit from the box     he would
hold it up till it became vapor 

The air gathers in pleats of vapor

I lie back

We are pulled together toward— 
Are we are alive on a planet

“My son and me”
(try to speak)

The words heavy as cured meat     can’t push them
outward into the street the sun

The baby holds up an erasure 
tears it, tears off a      room 


floats over the edge of a breath 
of a stand of milkweed

His breath exists as sand, slipping over my elbows

Water is pouring over the bed
Where is any fierceness 

Traffic holds the house in a five-point harness


There is no traffic
no door     just the edge of an infinite pour

not even that 

open your eyes

Anne says: “it is like mother’s love”

What is it 
I asked her
what does it feel like?


Left alone with the baby is boring

woodfloors knees clockfalls make rounds
of hours 

               Then the light, milkily, comes 

We are sugared in a medium, he and I
He is smiling
Happiness is on me like a scratch in a car door

The floor is dirt and chalk and cool as a henhouse

He has crawled into in the bathroom

                                                      “Can you open the door?” 

                                                      “Can you close the door?”

The tub’s cool slope 
frames his head with stone

I smell like done bread 
Turn over the loaf, tap tap—
hollow sound—door open.      He is smiling 
A fishing line, clear, thin
draws through my legs then tight across my chest
a line fine as rapidograph
constant, narrow, even, drawn 
round my wrists, shoulders, I am bound 

back to front, tied up lightly in

in what?
The light 

is beautiful again.
Outside in the stopped air the animals have stopped.

The baby points at the light.
 “?” he says     
Answers sparkle and turn like coins on a line
Look at this look 

how you are a fish-mother, silvery and still 
on the pond-bottom
can’t breach the surface where the boy 
churns up hard light—

There is a spreading through me like snowmelt

He is in the milky world of the bathroom, the daytime
dry chill, he is suspended in marble

All at once he points at me

Then he is out the door, stepping onto a silver wing


How to describe to you this height, this opening?


Death Is Something Entirely Else

Department of Trance
Department of Dream of Levitation
Department of White Fathom 
Department of Winding
Sometimes my son orders me lie down
I like when he orders me lie down      close your eyes 
Department of Paper Laid Gently
Department of Sound of Sheets of Paper
                                                                    he covers me with
then sings
I like best the smallest sounds he makes then
Department of This Won’t Sting
Am I slipping away 
Department of Violet Static
as if he were a distant station
Department of Satellite
My child says you sleep
Department of Infinitely Flexible Web
and covers my face with blankness
Department of Tap-Tapping the Vein
Department of Eyelash
I can’t speak
                       or even blink 
                                               or the page laid over my face will fall
Department of Clear Tape in Whorls and Double Helixes on the Wall 
He says mama don’t look 
Department of You Won’t Feel a Thing
I cannot behold 
Department of Pinprick
He will not behold 
Department of Veils and Chimes
of Lungs Afloat in Ether 

I like this best
Department of Spider Vein 
when I am most like dead
and being with him then, Department of Notes 
Struck from Thin Glasses Successively at Random
I must explain to my child that sleep 
                                                              is not the same as dead
Department of Borderlessness
so that he may not be afraid of
Department of Fingertips Lightly on Eyelids
so I can lie and listen
not holding not carrying not working 
Department of Becalmed         faint sound of him 

I am gone

His song is the door back to the room

I am composed of the notes


-from All You Do Is Percieve


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