Friday, June 13, 2008

Lesley Jenike

Battle of Bunker Hill

Dear Lesley, don't shoot till you see the whites
of their eyes; shoot when you see; don't shoot
before you look: winter scourges the dirt you
groomed to bloom hydrangea once May made

peace with this Eastern city. Among buds you
hung paper stars, bashful, ripped by wind, just
shy, by perspective's virtue, of a white obelisk
where we hung our collective remembrance.

Some battles bleach in sun, field that pillowed
men's feet and cradled the stakes they struck
to fly their colored cotton, draws up its green.
Your face met pavement after an evening; even

the greyhound in his quarter, bound on each
side by black iron, seemed to understand: war
is running. I painted this one for you. The sky
is a rainbow of sun and gunfire, the earth is

a gunwale. These men are just hanging on,
one hour, another. The wilderness in you
is ignorance: the smell of your skin, cells'
nuclei, the twin poleis of your eyes, a politic.

In this Eastern city, anxious men exit trains
so you may enter them and bullet yourself
to Wonderland where dogs still chase steel,
muzzled, mysteriously named, like the hill

this battle was named for. It's not the hill
where the battle seethed. But I allow myth
to dictate. You, too, moving across the track
with precision, allow the rabbit to escape.

Spring of a New Era

Dear Lesley, the lawn has grown long sooner
this year. Soon your nieces will be in blades
looking for eggs, the yard a treasure. Bound

in gold foil, chocolate hares spoil as they hide.
I'm reminded of the bullion sun we hunted,
hidden among pines or in a marsh regularly

filling then draining according to the moon,
that lesser, silver aster. The timber it took
to build a house was akin to skin stretched

by god's hand over scaffolding. In the Age
of Reason, we understood. You understand:
there's no end to reason. It soaks the room

with its harpsichord, its brocade repeating
deference in discrete pattern on your lap
as you take up your sewing. I wish I could

see your hands and hold them up to mine.
In the twenty-first century, blonde girls
discover egg after egg after discovering

the hider's philosophy: behind a tree or
beside the wheel of a car. We thought we
could predict nature but instead we built

a country. It stretched its rationality out
like a hand to pluck an egg, pink and blue,
from the meadow. Look, there are so many!

Sinking into Our We

Dear John, the British are coming! Just kidding.
They've already come, and long ago, painting
Our map with a cream and crimson expulsion

From sun to setting sun, that blessed star, even
After so many years, we still imagine comes
And goes, sinking into our we. We got it wrong.

The sea is just what it advertises: a primordial
bubble, its own laws, public gardens, public
policy: Whosoever sinks becomes for the lesser

that make light at the cellular level, a meal
of disproportion, skull of a hull through which
schools disappear. Your paintings in the dome,

a pitched roof to stop rain ruining, guide our
bones through their wreckage, their post-storm
compositions so caringly rendered sky opens

above. What happens to the dead? You had
your opinion and wager: Washington is there
eternally hating the color red, a sky forever

red. He's the sailor that took the warning:
morning happens every day. Looking into
the sun of your interpretation, we understood.

Lesley Jenike's poems have appeared or will appear soon in Fairy Tale Review, Florida Review, Brooklyn Review, Court Green, POOL, Verse, and others. Her first book Ghost of Fashion is forthcoming from WordPress. She will be joining the faculty at the Columbus College of Art and Design next year.