By: Heather Gluck
Hot fingers spread like taffy Against the sofa in the parlor where I sit And count the lips in the window dressing. I sing soft to make the dust rise away from my panicky heart And sensitive skin. This is three o’ clock, this is the viaduct arching over penetrable water. Decades smother in the smog and die. I once climbed the great oak tree And shook enormity down. Draped heavy on my shoulders, it mounted me to morning. When I looked through the window of my peach pie home And gripped the spine of inertia What was not crushed and carried by wind Stuck to the palm of my hand. Whose hand sinks here beside me? Fear and boredom loom and lend A staleness to the atmosphere I manage my breath with a riverhead song I manage my beauty with ungodly calm I manage the size between you and the moon The way that I manage to break, and renew. In the cold stare of rain I imagine myself Jostled and mesmerized In the center of a plaza that shines lightless I am three thousand men strolling by unaffected. I think the nakedness is beginning to kill me. Decades smother in the smog and die. If drunkenness will not spit up the years Of blushing into tooth And charming the snake around my neck To squeeze or to slide Perhaps it will permit me to pry open its jaw And wrest out from within its throat That strange, compelling music of sleep.
Heather Gluck, 22, is a first year Creative Writing MFA student at Columbia University, with a concentration in poetry and literary translation. She’s born and raised in New York, where she spends much of her time engaged in grassroots and community organizing, her life’s passion alongside writing.
"I wrote 'Decades' as a word bank exercise, using the poem “Joe’s Jacket” by Frank O’Hara as a starting point. It is a poem about being a woman and being haunted; about aging out of girlhood, and trying to escape the grinding misery of managing your existence in a social world. Hopefully it conveys a sense of majesty, uneasiness, and defeat."