These three poems by Carolyn Guinzio explore the stage when collection plateaus and attrition is beginning. Less about the pain of loss than about what is essential, they ask: upon what does our contentment depend?
by: Carolyn Guinzio
When deciding where to live First, consider the placement of mirrors. There are many versions of the self from which to choose, especially if you are near an edge. Consider flora. Some plants slow the breath, some ring the phone, bringing news. There are many versions of the news. If the frame of the mirror is ornate, you may have been retouched, your infant shoes tinged with pink, your lips with ink. Consider the book you will begin reading in your new bed in your new bedroom. If it is heavy to hold on to, heavy to hold in your lap, you might not yet be near the edge. The dark lake you are sensing in the distance might be a compound of softball fields, or a soft field of pink primroses breathing open because they know, somehow, exactly where they are. The book might be soaked in something heavy. The lake is hard to lift, but it isn't difficult to fathom. Consider the number of stories you are willing to contain, how many flights you can take before you will no longer catch your breath, before your breath rings the phone. Consider how far you are willing to fall to get back to where you were before. Consider how vital is clarity. Consider the comfort of fog.
The gap through which we must not drop At the bay, there is endless bread for the fish. Gulls come, too, with their frantic eyes and what seems a single lipstick smear in fire engine red that they stopped applying almost before they began, interrupted by a change in the waves only they perceive, beneath knowing, as if they were called away from a warped, liquid mirror to take their only chance to see some brief and breath- taking wondrous phenomena that cannot be explained. Too stale for even the least among us, endless bread bobs in the salted, slapping water, in the sea's round heel. No one has ever seen a place that no one has ever seen.
In the face of waning powers Let seem be finale of be. We came home just as the pill wore off, took off our glad rags, our rings and pieces. Our wings hung on the wing hook, airing out for next time. The shimmer, high- lights, bronzer and brows are caught in a micro- fiber cloth, the corrector, concealer, the light reflector. The shape-wear maintains its shape on the floor— a body outline where pretense met its end. Earlier, at the dinner, everyone complained incessantly about the weather. Under the din, Doro's ghost muttered that any weather is better above ground. No one mentioned joy, or silently wished the others joy, and another ghost waited at the edge of being to take their orders down.
Carolyn Guinzio’s most recent collection is A Vertigo Book, (The Word Works, 2021) winner of The Tenth Gate Prize and ForeWord Indies Gold Medalist in poetry. That book included the sequence “The Strange History of Jenny and the Wisp,” a large section of which appeared in Across The Margin. Her work has also appeared in The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker and many other journals. Earlier books include Spoke & Dark, winner of the To The Lighthouse/A Room Of Her Own Prize and Ozark Crows, a collection of visual poems. Her website is carolynguinzio.tumblr.com.