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P. Hurshell

When Leda Explains, It's Always Now

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And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
Leda and the Swan, W.B. Yeats


The beach is rank, iodine-sharp,
the salt harsh In my mouth. He sways out of his puffed up
cloud, stops the air,

wind-swaggers his tricks, the soft,
the feathery, the way his wings beat and beat a sky-preen-love
at his water image.

He dips lower. Admires his neck,
its long white, twists it from side to side. Swerves. Sharp
beak, eyes orange, high-

pitched scream or am I the scream
the waves boil     I

go down hard.                    Claws

Why are my fingers
baby crabs, they crawl new
my voice brown    I sing      brine

Syllables short-
circuit   arms tangle sea-
weedygreen      greenwrists     green bangles

He pizzicatos, jitters, un-
knots kelp, sand castles sift
turrets        Moats choke       Burble                       flat.

I'm the unreadable
alphabet under the pick.  He
sight-reads me.

Of course the audition's
for the director, his head cocks. Somewhere beyond the lights
the music water-logs.

Sign language
makes tired fingers. Dolphin's finwing, jellyfish where the sun was,

huge, dark
on the sand. Watch me scatter, all letters. I spell what you fear under water.
Your child's

end, your parents'
broken faces, how your hopes lose their mermaid spangles. Coral
stiffens truth.

I can't promise it.
Sharks shift, whales nudge my messages. The eels curl tight, squeeze
prophecies out of shape.

Quick, mollusk upside-
down, blink surf, feather-skim ceilings, open a horizon as if you learned
something. I

re-assemble here, spell
you for fun. Flash sparks. Don't dip your fingers. I'm the sliding face.
I magnify. Sear.

Fractals & Functions

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Clouded circus ring

Rising fire

Right-angled foot

Ring-a-ding hand machine

Tree branch swirling
a glister

How seldom
we relate thing to thing

during brain-staggers

We don't know a love for this gap
or the almost unseen crack
beside the hole

We can't see through a storm's

wrangling insides

We can't stand to stand, you and I

When the rocks start to slide
how will you find the one
you look for

How will I

The Women's Ways of Departure

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The women's ways of departure
in the West still remain unlit, as if the women always leave
in the dark. Their men squint helpless, unable
to trace those faint trails as if a deer has flown off
or maybe has invisible feet.

In the West the men say nothing's left, say
they can't understand why. How. Where. As if they'd been
listening but forgot to take notes.

Each woman leaves in her own way.
Some go in a rage, slit-eyed. Some sing
and laugh, some glide with lips corner-curved,
counting future revenges. Some hunch down. Bend
over a keyboard. Write their wet diary entries.
(These will turn into a famous epic studied
by scholars. Her man will sue. Lose.)

One woman's opus is torn in incisive
teeth-ripping shreds. Another's is a best-selling rhapsodic
glee-rush and thus a movie which turns out
too wet-tongue'd, too joke-sunny, too
generous to be helpful
for the West's woeful men.

The ways of departure are sad-glad, the women hum
absent-minded while packing. Ponder as they twist
the key, start the car. Take off remembering
how it all went wrong. Laugh. Cry.

Are they flying, is this flight they wonder as
their bodies lift and lift in their quite cheerful mood. Jolly as an airborne
leaf. Floating pleased. In the West the ways of departure
are silky, light on all the future's waves.

In the Middle East the unknown is always
almost known, where some space, some
self, lets time flash
split-second enlightenments.

In this photo she decides. Goes.
(In this photo the young woman is already wearing
under her blouse her bomb. The straps twine firm
from breast
to hip and back to breast.)

She's quite ready to go off at once. She stares
back into the camera lens, says what she's planned to say to it.
Her good-bys boomerang love, martyr-happy
end for tribe, future, tissue-

The women's ways of departure
are a mystery, an invisible flame (never a haunted animal).
The western women and some
middle-eastern women leave their men

if they can get away with it
but in the photo this woman's eyes remind us
only of her mother
at home after she gets the video.

If you hear the scream, all the ways hear her
also, hear the ways of departure, the ways
of good-by, the ways we learn
to know, the many ways the women, the wives,

the daughters, the sisters, the mothers,
choose to leave.


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She wants to draw / a blank
(Artfully, From Air, Miriam Schorr)


Her words hang-glide. The griefs
bump. Inside their silences how they won't and won't close.
There seems no way to say
the thin-to-invisible days that were before.

Each time, they widen. Flutter
their spaces as if they're scared in their transparent gauzes.
(They always want to wrap
their silhouettes in syllable-framed-bandages.) She sees them skitter.
Roll off and away

on her heavy currents.

When she probes for echoes
they feel like goose-feathers from an April pillow bursting in pale spikes.
They're always too loose
to catch.

Sometimes a long smooth splinter-
quill curves up, slants its skip into her chest to scratch a secret.
Other times the sounds cluster-
cling, mime a kaleidoscope smashed. In the smear
there's no magic.

In the air, air. In space, space.
Inside, the gravity sucks at its own blind

Elegy (in 3 movements)

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for the girl child who came to Vienna
and left again



You were born 2 ½
months early, knocked
for fun, couldn't stop.

Music was in your mouth.
You tapped a waltz. Stayed
three days, raggedy --

I didn't see
the black slate
right away. Bad news

came first, drugs and pillows
Austrian white. An orderly

over my head, jerked his mouth
sideways. After that his eyes
only watched

my vein. I was morphined up, arched
to see back over my head, saw
what he saw, in chalk:

Female / Zero. Plus
a cross because Austria's
Catholic. Your zero

was so round, a perfect
whole note like a long flute sound
in a score I missed.

What high-kick choreography!
You ripped off
our tissues like Salome

tearing her veils off fast
for a bloody exit. I must be
your best audience.



Presto! Me belly-sliced, you lifted out
with a flourish and off to the baby clinic
and then what? Andante?
Largo? A triple drumbeat with your feet?
I never saw an x-ray of all your roles,

your long fingers like your brother's
and sister's making trick silhouettes
on a wall, your eyes going wide
for Danube puppet-shows or your father's
yiddish jokes. Maybe your eyes

are blue-green surprise after applause
and you like the taste, the feel,
the oldest rhythms
of Viennese baroque. And when you don't,
your eyes go gray (green-gray, blue-gray)

like your siblings after they stub their toes.
If your eyes are dark gray now

it's my fault. You're looking up
for the birds I told you you'd see soon
when we listened for them outside.

Maybe even with the lid down
you're beating time with your knees
and fists the way
Mozart and Schubert and Brahms did
before they stretched out. Sang demise.

Vienna's cemetery displays cherubs, cement-
crosses, black wreaths, for miles. Tourists study
the statues and plaques
hard for clues. Nothing's translated.

You don't care. By now
you're bi-lingual.



Time-keeper. Hum your kaddish

so the musicians will know

your voice belongs

in the section with stones


on top of graves. Vienna's

composers can add harmonies

so your whole note will start

to rise, go so high you'll sound

visible. As if you've joined


the black specks up there,

the birds like the birds

we said echoed Mozart's

sparkle in the Requiem, dark-

bright dirges, clear cadenzas.

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