SUE AND LYN
HEATH JOSEPH WOOTEN
“Can I lime-/flower? Can I chamomile?/Something in the field cannot” -Jennifer Chang, “Pastoral”
“I’ve seen a lot of things that made blink,/for instance, take the ants across the kitchen sink.” - Jennifer Warnes, “Mama”
Our history was always dictated in footprints, meaning:
a moving away from, meaning a cosmology (which here, is
a mother and daughter). It could only be defined
by distance. As a refusal of the space between the tessellation
and the chicken coop. That night when the stars
highlighted the sky’s empty.
It is simply. Events follow
one pattern, otherwise I refuse
you hold my heels in the shoe store, your eyes like leather.
you sit on the porch and watch me story the driveway gravel into interesting.
you stand sundressed in the almost of a storm (and break the blue
gramma like chicken necks).
We’re in Nebraska. We’re in a fiction
of field. We’re in the liner notes
of a Jennifer Warnes record, and they say:
“you may pretend
these events were more beautiful. That when life bore
down like a finger to a scab you only swelled
(this will not hold up to scrutiny),
And I suppose this can be true.”
We’re a long way from the coop, even farther
from the tessellation we never named. No broken
necks. We’re not
in Nebraska anymore, Mother. Can your bones grab
that bilocation (or the lie of it)
of us and make it as true as music
(or the lie of it)? I don’t know
why I’m talking to you. You in the kitchen
coating a cut in super glue
while I watch the storm roll in. I can’t come in
or I’ll see the knife
and wouldn’t know your blood from the juices of the meat.
Once there was a story
and once I had a pen. I had a sheet
of parchment still muddy perfumed
with the broken of gramma. I had the sky flickering
like gasoline. I placed the record against the needle and it crackled
like a star, and I, as a screen door
flung open, found this sound. The same as I found
my feet against the gravel. The beautiful events:
she dances in her linen
after she puts on dinner. I watch from the window
as the heavy wind hugs her dress to her body
and she was the only thing in the field that could
make a dance. In all that empty.
(see how far we are, her footprints. I have said too much.)
The pot she left boils over, and I ignore
the burning for the sizzle against the eye
was so close to the wind, so close to my mother.
But the truth? She screamed so hard out in that knotting
of earth and wind, the record skipped,
a clean white
scar on a nothing else, both her and that record. Why does it matter
that I say
this? To you? Or to the ? The cycle: eyes like leather, the story
of gravel I never gave an ending, the storm
that never came. Just two things:
the sky (your skin) a ribbon of grey I never saw since
and that grass bent low like a prayer
or a slaughter which is so unlike birth
that god couldn’t be bothered
to make it bleed.
Heath Joseph Wooten is an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University. He is an avid collector of cassettes and other obsolescences, and you can find his work in or forthcoming from perhappened, Lammergeier, DEAR, and others.