Repairs are made to roofs which will never cover me: four poems by Cate Marvin

On Parting

Before I go let me thank the man who mugs you,
taking your last paycheck, thank the boss who steals
your tips, thank the women who may break you.

I thank the pens that run out on you midsentence,
the flame that singes your hair, the ticket you can’t
use because it’s torn. Let me thank the stars

that remind you the eyes that were stars are now
holes. Let me thank the lake that drowns you, the sun
that makes your face old. And thank the street your car

dies in. And thank the brother you find unconscious
with bloody arms, thank the needle that assists in
doing him in—so much a part of you. No thanks

to the skin forgetting the hands it welcomed, your
hands refusing to recall what they happened upon.
How blessed is the body you move in—how gone.

Landscape Without You

Roofers scrape the scaly lid
of an auto shop beside the house
where I live. Where I live

shirtless men tear at the black

scabs of a roof’s old flesh, toss
scraps into the back of a truck
parked in the lot next to a house

where I live. Where I live

a tarp rattles at night, plastic
rustles, and trash is kicked along
pavement by wind. Roofers

curse and shell the tire shop’s

peeling lid beside the house
where I live. Where I live
a tarp shakes all night; cans

land on pavement, tossed from

windows of cars that blur by
where I live. Where I live
windows are ladled red with

light your sun leaves me with.

Repairs are made to roofs which
will never cover me. As I read
the road between us, tire tracks

unscroll their tawdry calligraphy.

Any day now you shall arrive, roar
into my eye with your mountainside.
Where I live when I live where
landscape cannot survive you.

Scenes From the Battle of Us

You are like a war novel, entirely lacking
female characters, except for an occasional
letter that makes one of the men cry.

I am like a table
that eats its own legs off
because it’s fallen
in love with the floor.

My frantic hand can’t find where my leg
went. You can play the tourniquet. A tree
with white limbs will grow here someday.

Or maybe a pup tent
that’s collapsed in on itself,
it so loves the sleep
of men sleeping beneath it.

The reason why women dislike war movies
may have something to do with why men hate
romantic comedies: they are both about war.

Perhaps I should
live in a pig’s trough.
There, I’d be wanted.
There, I’d be tasted.

When the mail bag drops from the sky
and lands heavy on the jungle floor, its letters
are prepared to swim away with your tears.

One letter reads:
I can barely feel
furtive. The other:
I am diminishing.

Why I Am Afraid of Turning the Page

Spokes, spooks: your tinsel hair weaves the wheel
that streams through my dreams of battle. Another
apocalypse, and your weird blondeness cycling in
and out of the march: down in a bunker, we hunker,
can hear the boots from miles off clop. We tend to
our flowers in the meantime. And in the meantime,
a daughter is born. She begins as a mere inch, lost
in the folds of a sheet; it’s horror to lose her before
she’s yet born. Night nurses embody the darkness.
Only your brain remains, floating in a jar that sits
in a lab far off, some place away, and terribly far.
Your skull no longer exists, its ash has been lifted
to wind from a mountain’s top by brothers, friends.
I am no friend. According to them. Accordion, the
child pulls its witching wind between its opposite
handles: the lungs of the thing grieve, and that is
its noise. She writhes the floor in tantrum. When
you climbed the sides of the house spider-wise to
let yourself in, unlocked the front door, let me in
to climb up into your attic the last time I saw you
that infected cat rubbed its face against my hand.
Wanting to keep it. No, you said. We are friends.
I wear my green jacket with the furred hood. You
pushed me against chain-length. Today is the day
that the planet circles the night we began. A child
is born. Night nurses coagulate her glassed-in crib.
Your organs, distant, still float the darkness of jars.


Repairs are made to roofs which will never cover me: four poems by Cate Marvin

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