I live in Lawrenceville, a town just north of Atlanta, where I work as a tech writer. Beside poetry, the love of my artistic life is classical music, and though I don’t play an instrument anymore, I do write music reviews for Audiophile Audition. My poetry has appeared in Chelsea, Cream City Review, and Journal of the American Medical Association. Please visit my website, http://leepassarella.net/, for a sampling of my work.
Perpend. I have a daughter—
I’ve never been a woman,
so I don’t know how they feel
about certain things. Or about anything.
We’re told that sympathy doesn’t feel half
what empathy does. So I doubt I’ll ever
be able to relate to how a young woman--
say, in history or lit class--reacts
when she reads about some thrice-familiar
literary rape: the rape of Helen. Rape
of Tamar. Or Lucrece. Rape of the Sabines.
The rape of the Lock, even.
Men are always the subject of the tale,
aren’t they? the women only the soon-
discounted objects of their affection.
On the other hand, take Isaac,
the sacrificial lamb who wasn’t.
He doesn’t have time to be a burnt offering.
He’s got places to go in life.
But poor Iphigenia. You know, the fathers
in those old stories of female-child killing
always want like all get-out
to curry favor of one kind or another.
To hell with the costs. And why not,
with stakes so high? Agamemnon wants
fair winds for a sail to Troy. Jephthah wanted
to win that battle. And Polonius wants
to give his king a needed helping hand.
It was a little poem, as all my poems were
in those days, and just about all I can recall
is it described the thing I saw beyond the seared
hillside we kids had burned last year—plus “winterfall,”
a coinage used to fill my metaphoric bill.
(That other time—another story—the neighbors called
the firehouse. Luckily, not the cops.) The spill
of a thousand fridges, washers, driers appalled,
yet with a frisson: they filled the ravine to the height
of that hill, a hundred feet deep in rotting steel.
It was the early 60s, so every single scrap—dead white.
This was before designers sealed the deal
on planned obsolescence, with that autumnal color
wheel of possibilities: yellow, avocado, copper, tan,
black, and nowadays, brushed steel. So much duller
than that glacier—fiercely white-on-white—fan-
ning out across the hollow, above the stink of Darby
Creek—creek-as-sewer. Can’t recall what I had to say
in that old poem. But now, my poetic hobby-
horse takes its lead from the Bible—hardly au fait,
I know. And I know whited sepulchre’s all too trite.
But, no, I’m thinking of the Old Testament today:
of falling in the ditch you’ve dug. Selling the birthright.
Of hills made low, every valley having its day.
© 2018 Lee Passarella
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