Claudia Grinnell


Clouds Come Down

     He is one who wears my hair.

                           -- Paul Celan

I want to be buried

at dusk near a large body

of water, just as night slips

into morning: engines start, lights


flicker off -- just as

a man climbs out of bed,

bumping his toe on the frame

or reaching for his wife


because she was there

yesterday. I want the water

to carry my skin and blood

and atoms and quarks and gluons.


I want my eyelashes to blink away

snow in Katmandu and have Bombay Rum

seep through my kidneys

in Montevideo.


I want my eye to fracture

the images of the shore

and the horizon. I will signal

with sand and light


blue water that it's time

for you to go home,

to kiss your absent wife,

to forget the tide.


The Invention of Lies

I started small, telling my mother
that Santa Claus was a fat man
dressed in red velvet
and that Mary was pregnant
with Jesus and no god-damn
virgin. And I told you
I wanted to be your lover
and glorious and then everything
went wrong: the a/c broke
and the neighbor with her dead
fish -- and you said
a shell, you said, a house,
a candle, a book, you said,
a hand, a breast, a skin,
you said and nothing else,
nothing else. In the silence
I began making sounds
to fill my story. I told
everybody grass is green
(I still believe that)
and everything they wanted
to know about wave/particle
duality of light and about
what it was and not what
it now becomes: a mirror.
It was the potato that made
things so difficult -- obstinate
brownness. Then I made mirrors
reflect cautiously only that
which we want to see
and to whisper something good
is going to happen to you
today. Something good.
And when you look away
the mirror breaks, which is
why you should never
lose sight of the image,
never blink because other
universes die in your closed eyes,
galaxies implode, stars collide,
suns go supernova. And I made you
worry about the expiration
date on butter.