Denise Jarrott

Iowa (requiem)

what is Iowa Iowa was
it taught me what emptiness is—a latch
from east to west a black snake in the blush—
it has been four years almost since I have been
there and last time it was december
the way every body tensed and ice coated
on the grasses bent back over fence

(remember: Claire and I running through the empty street
in Pella as snow gathered in our hair coats open

november pheasant glide over the field
all that gold grass
all that industry fielded and founded
all that jagged steel buildings just to hold 

(maybe I’m afraid of returning to see it burn
ash like huge flakes of snow scorch tongue burn through thick jackets)

squared off
shattered windows empty farmhouses
little strips of wallpaper curling at the edges 

(explain to Joshua how the victorians wanted to cover every inch of empty space
as if surface itself was too loud to live with
)

I don’t want us on the map the cut diagonal
must be more than a wound like seeing a body cut slowly
from the mouth corner

but it doesn’t seem like killing not in the moment anyway said over
and it is only flat land it is only a belly it is only a belt only a slap

across a face with the heel of a hand
a hell house an outbuilding where a girl is screaming
she is learning when is the proper time to love another person

(remember running through Mark’s family farmland with so many boys
in amish country groves looking for morels in spring how his mom gave us all
handkerchiefs I still have one yellow with horses on it
)

a flat line
a snake in the grass

(do you think a place like this is breathing except when you’re in a lake and even then)

color swirl

human legs running slow

seaweed spiral up a leg

(he said I could throw you in no one would ever find you
in the man the lake made)

 

Laws of fluid dynamics

I.
There are ways in which we are not modern: 
the sharp curve of your chin,
the gentle light
of the barrelhouse, or

that the bubble is evidence of breath
that  holds its shape.
that science falls in love with the sphere: the bubble, its shape

how that is the perfect example, how it can be filled with smoke how it can freeze
I see the smoke
the apparatus
now that I have seen the way it was done

II.
Not to be critical of this: 
I saw your profile in the watertower, 

I wondered which fruit was in season---what is this

abundance what is this plant this slow plant by which
we must wait?             This strip of prairie, this wind this brown water

this tree this river this exposed root this wasp

waist, and this,

is one way to survive

III.
I saw the blood on the floor the pink flip flops now how can I do it
how can I walk through any doorway is still breathe still delineate the future:

soon I will be staying in a house of oranges, soon I will be standing
in the middle of an enormous forest, soon I will wear a dress

soon I will be lying in the city pool in a swimsuit, soon I will be in a movie theater,
soon I will decide to have a drink, soon I will take our daughter

to school, soon I will learn how to dance
properly, to say no


Denise Jarrott is the author of the chapbook Nine Elegies (dancing girl press). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, The Volta, jubilat, Mid-American Review and elsewhere. She grew up in Iowa and currently lives in Brooklyn.