What Little I Wouldn’t Permit in a Dream | Emily Van Duyne

Madness to think this is happening
in someone else’s poem: we’ve been rediscovered
in the late-late work of Larry Levis, dug up from a false-bottomed drawer
stuck in a locked box buried beneath his cowboy boot-sole, some grad student
found a letter with a poem she close read as a treasure map, and

there we are: two blurry women. We are not
the sun, we are the shame
of someone’s dead father’s fading mind, the weight
heavy and hanging over every false move we make, we grasp
for purchaseif you can describe something as mad, does it prove

you’re not mad? But really what other word fits
my decision, last night, alone in bed, that if I kissed her, if she allowed
her mouth to open under mine, I would suddenly know
(I would dive inside her body, I would enter
the center of world’s largest theoretical crash)

My God—her body
consists entirely of starlight, and I am not looking
to purchase a thing, or hold her in my mouth

for if we stop moving, we will disappear, dissolve
into the background of that other poem, where I serve some man

(his cock is writ large, but so small, I have to purse
my lips to keep it from falling out and disappearing, too)

and she serves another, and I will never know the light inside her
and I will never know what she might see, scrawled and scratched, in me.

Emily Van Duyne always feels so odd writing about herself in the third person. That said, she is a poet, essayist, and critic whose work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in So To Speak, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Diagram, and Mead, among others. She is assistant professor of writing and women’s studies at Stockton University, in New Jersey, where she lives with her partner, her two children, and their fine cats, Jean-Luc and LeBron James.

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