By Jean Macpherson
Leaving the past behind is never simple. Like the ridiculous nature of encountering a long-lost high school boyfriend is tempting. You read the message over and over again. A year goes by, maybe longer. The message is still there without deletion and finally, you give in and accept the request. Past mingles with present with future.
The Flooded Field by Sophie Klahr (Sycamore Review VOl. 25 issue 1 Winter/Spring 2013) evokes a dangerous landscape affixed beneath the wall of my skin because I am infatuated with all the best parts of memory.
Imagine an orange, cut into slices, on a plate on a bed
on a night in April, under the slow clicking fan.
I have memorized the sound of your tongue’s light
push on the roof of my mouth, as when you say Body (145).
Erotic, beautifully imagistic, I can taste the sweet juice from each slice on my tongue, perhaps drizzled with olive oil, dashed with salt and pepper. Each taste is kissing the ghost against the bitter rind, a memory slivered from lust and how we suffer emotions blindly caught up in the pleasure of pleasing each other. So follows the memorization of each other’s body; the painting we own above the living room sofa.
Softly, say Body.
Imagine a field flowering,
a wet murmur of sulfur, a bird
crying somewhere nearby. Imagine (145)
the bird caged in our painting; it is dark. Only a few apartment lights in the background. Imagine being read to, a few paragraphs from anywhere during a long car ride to Philadelphia, the mixed-tape symphony I made for you. I don’t know where it is now and each track is lost. And before I picked this flower, I picked another.
I went to your house after school. Laid with you on the sofa. I recall the awkwardness of getting up, asking you to close the heavy drapes because I was afraid of getting caught going down on you. I’m not sure why I was attracted to you to begin with. That’s a lie. You were a wildcard, not from here. You were distance found in a lucky penny.
almost nothing for miles.
Let’s bring a dog from the left, gold
streaming across the wet field like a paper fortune
slipped from your palm into the wind and gone (145).
That sound of quiet–the subtle distraction from the corner of the eye or behind closed lids. What I love is the dictatorial perspective from the speaker in the poem, the commanding nudge of “Imagine,” “say,” than bringing the two together with “Let’s.” The idea of being told instead of having to decide. Whatever the flooded field –a scene from the imagination, a painterly expression of brushstrokes, I found a lover here, creeping in between thumb and forefinger butterfly rhythm pick a number you will live in you will marry have __kids destiny chosen!
And taken away. Like your mouth — what else is there in place of your tongue?
Let’s put three seeds in your pocket. Three seeds —
red, tough. When no one is looking,
you put them carefully in your mouth, try
to crack each with your teeth (145).
Three is a magic number. Pick a number pick another number. You stay for the winter months and we share a crocheted afghan of bulky yarn, a blue-green Monet pastiche my grandmother made and we never get a full year. The seeds were challenging enough, kept my own mouth busy and distracted until it is time to leave.
I am carefully drawing a river, then a boat
at the edge of the scene. The boat
its own cool light we swim toward
to examine the tether (145).
I see the wake left behind. We are always on the edge of something, getting closer, drifting like a forgotten shovel and pail. I don’t know why I confine. That’s a lie too. I disregard letting go, traverse old routes, checking the well-being of old lovers. I am unwilling to accept the state of your house. I paint my own picture and start over again.