The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday and Conservatory Orchids


Headaches
By Marilyn Hacker

Wine again. The downside of any evening’s
bright exchanges, scribbled with retribution :
stark awake, a tic throbs in the left temple’s
site of bombardment.

Tortured syntax, thorned thoughts, vocabulary
like a forest littered with unexploded
cluster bombs, no exit except explosion
ripping the branches.

Stacks of shadowed books on the bedside table
wall a jar of Tiger Balm. You grope for its
glass netsuke hexagon. Tic stabs, dull pain
supercedes voices,

stills obsessive one-sided conversations.
Turn from mouths you never will kiss, a neck your
fingers will not trace to a golden shoulder.
Think of your elders —

If, in fact, they’d died, the interlocutors
who, alive, recede into incoherence,
you would write the elegy, feel clean grief, still
asking them questions

— though you know it’s you who’d provide the answers.
Auden’s Old People's Home, Larkin’s The Old Fools
are what come to mind, not Yeats. In a not-so
distant past, someone

poured a glass of wine at three in the morning,
laid a foolscap pad on the kitchen table,
mind aspark from the long loquacious dinner
two hours behind her,

and you got a postcard (a Fifties jazz club)
next day across town, where she scrawled she’d found the
tail-end of a good Sancerre in the fridge and
finished the chapter.

Now she barely knows her friends when you visit.
Drill and mallet work on your forehead. Basta!
And it is Màrgaret you mourn for... Get up,
go to the bathroom.

You take the drugs. Synapses buzz and click.
You turn the bed lamp on, open a book :
vasoconstrictor and barbiturate
make words in oval light reverberate.
The sky begins to pale at five o’clock.

--------

Paul worked from home on Friday because the van was being serviced. I took Maddy to work, then took Adam to the food store to get snacks for the all night movie marathon at which I left him soon after. Unfortunately Maddy fell and hit her head and came home early, and after a consultation with her doctor, we took her to urgent care to find out whether she has a concussion (they thought yes). Since the medical facility is right next to the Original Pancake House, we had dinner there.

Now Maddy is asleep (they told us we don't need to make sure we can wake her up every couple of hours), Adam is somewhere between A Clockwork Orange and The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big Fish, and we have watched this week's Agents of SHIELD, which has actually mostly been fun this season, and Eric Idle's The Entire Universe, which is complete hilarious crack. Tomorrow afternoon Daniel is arriving! Here are some flowers in Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden's winter conservatory:

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