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Jacket 19 — October 2002   |   # 19  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |
This issue of Jacket is a collaboration with Verse magazine

Rebecca Reynolds

Two poems

A Lady’s Manual

I dreamt I was on a journey in search of a savior (no, a scientist) —

then dusk transported me along the sea

where tiers of light swept the tidewater at my feet, which, like the Light Princess’s, were silk’d
and slipper’d

as if I’d stolen some other woman’s skin — but also a changeling (I had a child with me)

and for miles the last orange sun filtered the pools, the whorls of conch, colloidal fish, anemone,
surf-eaten spines and kelp

and the seashore, also a desert

and together we saw no one, but so much did I require this scientist, or man of learning, I had become a Sympathetic Creature

weightless and wristed in thin lace, not of the sea but having the power to grant sea-wishes by whatever was compelling me

i.e., the wishes of fishers and the liberation of nymphs

and other acts of vanity

with beauty and the mysterious infant as my props, forgetting for an instant the natural world, my human lover and me in the sheets, asleep

when I entered the scientist’s home, in the midst of a celebration, warmed by coppery lamps and stemware, and guests

who toasted his most recent discovery, though little did I understand of physical chemistry — yet instantly

he fell in love, though he kept his love concealed and gave me a room

in which to sleep, because of the child and my evident exhaustion, the sense that I was in some kind of distress due

to the transparency of my skin, pellucid, sea-like

and because I was, suddenly, inspiring rapture

though I knew, too, that I was dangerous, a curse, something about me was deceitful

in the wraith’s disguise, that I had the desire to make him wander, to lose conjecture and thus all reason, propelled

without method in the aftermath, where we set off

through the virgin woods, until all the woods were aflame

and we came to a valley beyond the woods, without knowing what lay on the other side, and the  infant had disappeared

and the man of learning, discovering my aspect, met with a terrible fate, and the rest —

the yellow thickets, my vanishing —

you could surmise

the assumption of music and lamentations, the incessant lute. Such were my conditions, to comply with the empire

virtually the whole of my existence, though I was not the singer and nor would I have foreknowledge of the song.

House Flora

Proliferation is abject:
wisps of retriever and cat, the mint-stalks

filched from the garden with wild aster —
as in a spell. The least angle calculates

the fascinum: nos.
of exceedingly small animals,

a spider with six eyes,
the lemon wheel, a pinch of thyme or duckweed

when the tiniest adjustment thrills the scenery,
like snow. To burrow, or conceal one’s body by closing the eyes

(as in hope’s invisibility), e.g.,
the actress on TV wants to be a size zero! gradually

cease to be distinguisha. . .
so my lover loves me for my vanishing nature for my

l    air
          h        air . . .

and on the floor, a vulgar mulch.
Fuck silk and the hand-stitched leaves. The thorns

I’ll gather separately with the hatched egg-cups, blue
with pearl dribble,

to re-build the dispersed arbor:
stirrups of a thin musculature, of vine, the un-

articulated pinnings, a thistle
for the ear’s Chartres, plus a lot of errata. To disburse

is not to disburden, but to lick
the cat’s ear, like this —

into small motherings. And these
are mundane: the waxen ‘o’ of the doctor’s quick thermometer

in and out of my ear (like this), or the needle
nosed in by the quiet phlebotomist.

To relinquish company for the local jargon
when the land springs up.

Jacket 19 — October 2002  Contents page
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