Winter 2009 - THE POTOMAC

Three Poems
   Marina Blitshteyn

Mission to Mars, 5.26.08

you're better off
for burying your cherry-tomato head
in the grassy earth of space,
hiding in shame the faint hair on your brow,
the furrow of your lonely face.

"tee off in Washington and the hole is in Sydney
– and moving" they say, more
a scurry from the hurled thing
approaching, the furry white
of a golfer's ball, or a rabbit's tail
receding into forest.

in a week we can make you
morbid and mean,
from your permafrost we erect
the iciest statue
of one of our lingering gods.

"Absolutely beautiful,"
he said, the scientist,
its soft image cooling in his mouth.
"It looks like a good place
to start digging."

man's metal wings unfurled
as soon as the dust settled,
a guest in his own nest.
the long arm reached into your chest
to tug at your heart, dig
till we could boil the magic
that runs it red.

our little project, you lay
dead until we sew you a cell,
plant in your seams the expanse
we've dreamed of,
the rocky depths of a brute new mind.
canyons and shallow lakes.
soups and hot pepper,
a nagging aftertaste in the gums.

"tremendously exhilarated
… a good few tears have been shed."
the salt grains, grains of soil.
hold your chin, unfold
your grainy tongue. tell us
the truth, we know you
burrow further to the deepest dark.
we know you have as much for us to borrow
as we have to give,
some stolen breath, a frozen fever
pouring through the core.
you take us in like mirrors
fling us back when we get close.


There’s no room even for paralysis;
we are so compressed the springs in us burst.
A limb to a limb,
the wires in our guts snap.

The synapses to our moves, the charge
of loose diseases,

A gust of pins in the turnstile teeth,
a guest on the skin.

No time, the time blinks, no time to still.

The bars will melt here,
two ribs will spread
in a healthy fury.
Two fiery eyes will roar at your window,
speed and fade like a tiny comet—

But it will be ours,
and we will have made it.
And I will have done this lingering heat.


for SP

It is becoming.
The ghosts roam and knock down stray sheets;
they are welcome.
In our open windows I am not ready
for all these voices,
nature voices with their petulant cry.
It is becoming.
And the glare is mean,
these yellows smart.
All night I tape my thighs to one another,
wake up cow-like and slow.
I wake up like a frying fish.
I wake up like a flightless yolk.
It is becoming what I am not.
Old skins hang bare, a light fuzz settles
on these winter bones. The ground
I’ve stepped on twenty times and fallen in.
The slick brown.
The wet stars.
These nuanced smells, they
wave their heft
becoming thick and laborious.
Becoming a mother’s first
heaving, her first breasts
bowls of dense milk.
Like this up-turned dampness
is indicative of thirst.
It is not.
It is becoming
selfish, of itself.
The beg becoming, the want,
becoming louder,
and I am not ready
for the ankle swell,
not ready for the pull outward,
the suckling of a season past its clean.
It anticipates my body
like a hot bright seat;
but I have not made these limbs any leaner
than the pedals let.

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