The Guests, The Fasters, The Watchers

Prose Poems Inspired by George Widener: Part Two

Some people go to church on Sunday and some get in an airplane.  Sometimes both of them end up praying at the exact same second because the plane is going to crash.

—George Widener, “Sunday’s Crash”


No Loch Ness Monster Found

We dove deep into the hive, which had betrayed its sacrificial nature through a series of telegrams received in the capital.  It was no longer possible to attend the services of ash.  What I mistook for a frond insinuated itself in my nostrils; no nidor was ever so pleasant, nor as ripe for pillaging.  A vial of marvels flickered in and out on the dais, around which photography capered, dispelling the armor of the state.  My spirit was hidden in a pair of scissors, my fortune in an orange.  Redact this blue sky from every memory my soul has retailed, I instructed my servants.  I waited for sleep’s mask to extend like night onto the surface of the water.  Fur approached us, it glittered upon our necks like some dowsing instru­ment scrimshawed from poached ivory.  Winged creatures flew through vast quantities of water just to bring this sweetness to the prince’s lips.  I didn’t know him, having never lived in this world as a hunter.  You were my body, you sur­vived by travel when all the clocks were consigned to time’s brilliant enigma, you sang the visible echo, the immaculate comb.


Elvis (Not You)

O titanic wound through which biography flows, peel this apple with your scalpel-sharp nails.  I have brought it from the orchard of the soul’s iniquity where celebrity crouches, covering its gaudy genitals with its hair.  I purchased my sorrow from love’s garish kiosk and loaded it like a gun.  The forest is a fool­ishness but we enjoy its company, its broad eaves soughing in the breeze, its emerald lakes.  Around them childlessness coils its lithe and hungry body.  The animals watch from a safe distance, having shed their wings, which only some of them will regrow.  Every tree is a scar from which the chrism drips and we bottle it in this rowboat, which we paddle to the capital, half-capsized.  We will make a lot of money in the black light, sing the policemen on their syncopated beats.  If we try hard enough we can blend in among them, we can wear their darkened glasses.  I confess I never knew the names of all the living, when I moved among them.  Earth had me by the neck, death by the groin.  We made an awkward three-legged figure in the streets, each carrying the others’ crosses.


Dingo Baby Trial

At the edge of the rebirthing machine you tremble, holding out the pieces of your tongue in each palm as if somehow this could save you, could make something different.  You must have had a very large tongue for it to disassemble itself into so many pieces, which feel oddly heavy, as if they have somehow called gravity down to them, an invisible angel made of lead.  The surfaces have mostly dried so that they feel a little like sharkskin, when you shift your weight and can actually feel them as something more than weight, than presence.  From inside the rebirthing machine you can hear the faintest of musics, so faint you can’t be sure whether it’s a clas­sical aria, a pop song from your childhood, or perhaps merely the nonsensical twangle of an ice cream truck circling your neigh­borhood endlessly, suing for custom but unable or unwilling to stop for the children that stumble behind it, licking the blood from their dirty hands.


Mary Rose Lives Again

(But remember:  we are buried under all this humid air.  I fell in love with the marriage feast, the delirious passion of theft upon theft that made the city so much less a dress to me, a living thing playing out its own narrative against the beating of my six-chambered heart, a tent, a chord from which porters carried the gut­tural baggage of surrender to the gray ferry.  A dim loam surrounded me, but I recog­nized it for squander and instead built a golden scaffold, where I briefly paced and slept.  I was never tempted so much as when confronted with the lenity of beati­tudes, the residue of charity which dried and flaked against these mauve-ish prison walls.  Sheathing the blue flame against my thigh like a hunter’s knife I crept into the net, which glistened the way only mathematics glistens on the surface of abstract thought.  I touched it and was caught between worlds, both hand and voice half-lifted to the flag of absence bearing down on me from some great distance it would never absolutely cross even as the bride and groom left the darkening pavilion for the last time, their eyes little economies of scale my breath sank into, unrecoverable as a black box or a private script and just this once neither lusting nor spurning.)

G.C. Waldrep’s most recent books are The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta, 2012), co-edited with Joshua Corey, and a chapbook, Susquehanna (Omnidawn, 2013). BOA Editions will release a long poem, Testament, in 2015. Waldrep lives in Lewisburg, Pa., where he teaches at Bucknell University, edits the journal West Branch, and serves as Editor-at-Large for The Kenyon Review.