Cathexis Northwest Press
What We Mean When We Say Organic Evolution; Jesus and the Sizzler; what you love you must love now*
By: Rosemarie Dombrowski
What We Mean When We Say Organic Evolution
They’re the subject of European folklore and Peruvian art, toxic and magical like the image you send me on Sunday of the one floating on its back in the Rio Salado, the reeds surrounding it like lanterns, the reflection of an ocotillo buoying it up to the surface.
I think of the act of meditation, Shavasana and the dead, how it altered my consciousness the first time I touched a frog’s skin. How they were the devil to Milton. How I’m not afraid of anyone pouring poison into my ear.
For once, it isn’t playing dead. It’s entering the dry phase tonight, bleached gray by the Sonoran sun, its vertebrae sinking into the river rock in a final act of camouflage.
In Australian mythology, the lizard god gave people the ability to express themselves through art. I tell you that I was a lizard in a past life, and that maybe what we’re seeing is just the beginning.
Jesus and the Sizzler
Jesus, my body, how you unleavened my tongue while never quite melting, your foreskin like plaster, mother calling it a kind of bread, mother telling me that no woman had ever wept without taking you in her mouth. And grandmother in the direct line of Magdalene, which was how I knew we were prostitutes all of us, my first wet dreams to the soundtrack of a Spanish homily, the majesty of noon mass gone straight to the Sizzler, Christ and the chicken cordon blue. I wore a white dress and waited for him to touch me above my clothes like a mystic, a miracle-maker, a divinely doe-eyed man. Then Randy from the Sizzler slipped himself under my bra, which I never mentioned because every myth begins with the re-telling of a small gesture, a white lie, a cheap wafer for the world to suckle.
what you love you must love now*
*(title of a song by The Six Parts Seven)
When the yellow-rumped warbler fell from the sky it shocked us with color, like the work of a street artist madly in love. We could hear the city in its tail-feathers. We could see the anatomy of suffering in its corpse—breast-up, head twisted, wings splayed like an offering in the shape of a heart. I think about the cross-stitch my mother taught me, how she said it was the most durable, perfect for sewing feathers to skin, bird to human, body to body. She said that every dead bird is a book of patterns, a premonition, a petroglyph in the desert. Phoenix fossil and mourning dove. The kinetic energy of the fall. The cool slate of the asphalt where it lands.
Rosemarie Dombrowski is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founding editor of rinky dink press, the co-founder and host of the Phoenix Poetry Series, and the curator of First Friday Poetry on Roosevelt Row. She is the recipient of five Pushcart nominations, an Arts Hero Award, the Carrie McCray Literary Award in Nonfiction, and a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies, The Philosophy of Unclean Things, and The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. www.rdpoet.com