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Tania Rochelle:Two Poems
The Haunting | Nude Bowling at the Good-Time Boogie

The Haunting

At first she was a small electrical storm,
turning the TV off or on at odd moments,
changing the radio station to 96 ROCK.
Sadie had this battery-operated dog
that barked when you pinched its tail.
After—it would bark by itself
whenever I walked in the room.

Did these things frighten me?
Venus, blonde goddess
of beauty, love, and laughter,
and Minerva, destined to preside
over peace, defensive war, and needlework:
a "perfect match" is what they called us.
How strange that our chromosomes
would be so alike. Then Minerva
of the magic bone marrow
finds out she's pregnant again—and just in time,
her Dionysian husband half out the door.
Right to life, she claims, Venus can wait.
Growing fat and pink,
watching Kelly shrink to yellow bone,
I saw my mother watch her daughter die.
What could ever scare me after that?

Besides, I thought Kelly meant no harm.
She let herself into my dreams
as a bored fifteen, stretched out
on the hood of Aunt Jo's old Comet in Birmingham,
or seventeen, catching
her reprobate boyfriend,
lifting that scared girl's lace skirt
off the floor, telling her,
I like this. I'll trade you.

On her birthday, her friends and I
would meet at her favorite bar, choke down
sweet frozen drinks, dance on the table.
But each time fewer came, caught up
in the dance and choking
of our own lives, until by this fifth year
we forgot altogether.
Now, as I scrub bathtub rings,
she floats in clouds of cleanser,
mouthful of ventilator, tongue
slug-gray and swollen;
sits with me at the kids' ballgames,
eyes taped shut, small cuts on her body
that won't stop bleeding;
runs up behind me
when I jog, always asking,
If it had been John sick, or Sadie,
wouldn't you have sacrificed the baby?

But it isn't the baby, it's a little girl
with a laugh like holy water,

which makes Kelly every
other woman John slept with,
the "something" hiding under Sadie's bed,
the flat tire, the broken glass, the blown bulb.
She's the burnt toast,
the toast intended for the second child.

Nude Bowling at the Good-Time Boogie

Ananaya of the Brown Nipples
is trying to sweep up a spare,
my mate in line behind her.
Others chat in the darklight
of candles and campfires,
but I'm too queasy for small talk;
I've been overserved again.
I'm overwhelmed of the senses—
preponderance of flesh,
reek of patchouli and cannibis,
competing beats of drum circles.
Open air showers, a communal
kitchen: I'm tired of dirty
fingernails, greasy scalps,
unchecked pheromonal ooze;
tired of this weekend
of musical gender-bending
and letting-it-all-hang-
out-ness. And tired, too,
of this game they've made
of paneling, pins,
and bales of hay, played
sans sarong. It brings to mind
my father's famous costume soirees—
any excuse to don a diaper
or a hula skirt, scant enough between
his particular urges
and any woman not my mother.
Well, who but I would drag out
the rags of her childhood
during naked competition?
Who, but I, wearing a mere scrap
of fabric, knotted at the hip.

Poet's Biography:
  Tania Rochelle received her MFA from Warren Wilson in 1997. Her work has appeared in Iris, Snake Nation Review, New York Quarterly, Blue Moon Review, and other print and online journals, as well as the anthology Split Verse. She lives near Atlanta with her husband and four children, and teaches writing at Portfolio Center, a school for advertising and design.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.