Cathexis Northwest Press
I Ask If You Want To Take My Earrings Out; The Terrarium
By: Sofya Martine
I Ask If You Want To Take My Earrings Out
Your easy hands push my hair --
then you confront the apparatus.
You stop. Here are my lobes:
pierced, of course, but I no longer feel that.
Your fingers tremble; I demonstrate --
maneuver it, slide it, just get it out. There.
How like a fish-hook, held up between us;
and my sesame-sized hole, the wound I never notice,
sealed open from so many years and days
of ordinary repetitious puncture. Just below,
the wobbling seed in its pod, tiny keloid
from another life closed now, safety pin and ice.
I can’t remember that flesh ever whole.
Come on. Do the other one.
Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, an English botanist, demonstrated the terrarium in 1842. These ferns survived the ship to Australia -- fringed and coiled seahorse tails, the green recycling, breathing. Heat and light enter the glass, water evaporates inside, vapor condenses on the walls falling back to the plants and soil. He called it the Wardian case. In lower Manhattan the floodwaters rise, the streets give way to rivers. A wooly mammoth once pissed as it ran. Nothing completely disappears. New York will dry up and the rain will come to Bangladesh. My dog is drinking a puddle. My sister and I had not spoken in months. Hurt condensed and swelled in my veins. Yesterday we talked at last for hours and she sobbed. Nothing was resolved. I felt ripples of old violence, a rape from the seventeenth century, behind a barn somewhere in Romania, where centuries later my bitter grandmother disparaged her children without knowing why. Nothing disappears. Stalking around cracked pavement ferns this crow, with its strong beak and calculating eyes, resembles both a pterodactyl and my father. Vapor accumulates, races, gold and pink. A homeopathic-size drop of mammoth pee rides in that fleece. I keeping wanting again to dissolve in the taste of your salt. We walk on the dunes and forget the news of missiles.
Sofya Martine is a poet living, writing and teaching in Indiana.