by: Beth Gordon
Reading these two poems by Beth Gordon is like coming to consciousness from the dream you (mis)took for your life. At their center is a sense of desolate awe that comes over us when we look at the world and and see nothing but our own haunting strangeness: “This is what it looks like when an ocean goes missing.”
I Wake Up This Morning and It’s All Morning to Me
What was that woman’s name who dangled a silver-chained orb, who made me
believe I was walking in sand, young fiddler crabs just out of reach and salt,
in Chicago on Valentine’s Day when the sun rose over last week’s
snow and fog grounded every plane, their steel framed apparitions
like lighthouses forever stormed?
Without salt I wake clutching my hungry lungs.
She told me to look into the half-drowned mirror and count backwards from 100. She said
I would find the Dead Sea when I woke, and snapped her bat-webbed fingers.
I made love to a widower who bathed me in cactus and wrapped me
up in his dead wife’s robe and asked, if you want a roadmap for a life
well-lived, why are you looking here?
This is what it looks like when an ocean goes missing.
You ask me to pour your wine into a measuring cup, you ask me
to chop celery while you transform egg
whites and asparagus stems into a feline potion. My daughter
sends me photos of three kittens asleep in the bassinette and I try not to ask
about witches stealing baby
breath because I know she will not answer. You ask me
if I ate breakfast and I tell you that I woke with a hungover
man in my bed. Without cats or omelets
or coffee, I said, not a single aspirin to ease his pain.
Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University in 1990 and was not heard from again until 2016 when her poems began to appear in numerous online and print journals. Landlocked in St. Louis for seventeen years, Beth has taught several local writing workshops, and is co-founder of a poetry reading series in Grafton, IL. She is also co-editor of the online poetry and fiction journal, Gone Lawn.