nthposition online magazine

Meniscus & The gift of kimono

by Sue Stanford

[ poetry - october 04 ]

Meniscus

These slate grey pebbles lie like murdered girls
each with foundation flawlessly applied.
Their cheeks are matt as eggs except where pearls
of frost, which bruises at a breath, have dried

upon them. From a pipette the bleeding of
the moon confirms again the job is going well.
When lumps of pitted rock are all you have,
questions may fly, answers may crack a shell.

 

The gift of kimono

As antidote to Robespierre, Lenin and Mao,
the glib belief that we'd be bored in heaven
is almost worse than the disease. Years ago,
a friend gave me an armful of kimono.
Wry about the niceties that made them too
young for her, she told me to belt them loosely
and forget the obi. But I was awkward in them.

Bound and tied I felt I couldn't breathe.
Undone they flopped about like useless wings.
Riding the ups and downs of culture shock,
I was a parody of the Noh angel doomed
to rot on earth without her feather cloak.
I put my friend's gift in a drawer, refusing
to trade my jeans for alien beauty.

Eight basic rectangles of standard width,
kimono play their simple geometry against
swelling and emptying. The cut subdues
the body. The body rounds out flat cloth.
Posture is emphasized. Then, cutting across
the lot, a knotty plum branch bursts into
flower and grasps the wearer by the shoulder.

Brocade, embroidery, painted, tie-dyed
or wax resist designs bring to the silk,
itself, off-kilter fantasy. Again, there is
the both-at-once of geometric and free flowing
lines: a zigzag motif might be overlaid
by dragonflies, or half-obscured by clouds
fresh morning glories twined around a trellis.

Perhaps this dual focus pumps more blood
through both brain hemispheres at once.
Geometry is what is brought to bear arising
from the physics of tool use, we reference it
to rational principles. It indicates, in field,
street or dome, our tough enduring presence
in a landscape. But what's alive is always

passing through. Just as you are when you pause
to exclaim, Wow! Looking good! So now I'm
hooked on layered imagery, I often see in
things around the house wet footprints left
on bathroom tiles, or possums running roofs
and wires a vision of social structures
put in place with gain, not loss, of latitude.

No laws without their loopholes. No enforcement
without abuse. Though opportunistic
counter-paradigms shadow good government,
refuse, you say, to shrug and find a niche
under a bad one. Dressed up for spring,
the birds agree the garden's beautiful.
A crocodile reflected in the water lily's eye.