November 13, 2016

SUN STORY SUNDAYS | Inter Change

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Sun Story Sundays is taking a quick pivot this week, featuring poetry instead of fiction. Guess everything in the world has been turned on its head, huh? Submissions can be sent to alv49@cornell.edu. The audio component of this story can be found here. 

Inter Change

*

 

Pair.

 

My brother, my son

Asks for the Good Samaritan again

Is our home neighbor the same Neighbor

As your America neighbor, Didi?

An absinthe-marinated liver kind of fiend

Who touches girls the way he wrestles bulldogs

Makes me America sick from stale vapors

The way vomit makes you want to vomit and pray

For him, your neighbor, at the same time.

*

 

Portrait.

 

A Fourth of July barbeque in the Outer Banks,

The oil, the thirst, the sea.

My brother’s shrieks of laughter pouring

From his small mouth, watching the crab scuttle in circles

Around itself like a broken windup-up toy.

Fireworks unshell, knock

The wetness out of mothers and

Fathers out of dirty reverie –

Images of their neighbors dissolve and

Piss begins to flow again.

The startled crab halts and my brother quiets and

They both fold their legs, the crab beneath its discolored

Shell, my brother beneath his narrow hips,

Their black eyes seizing the other

In silence, in thirst, like the sea.

Father approaches, the crab disappears

In the sand in a blip in itself;

God knows, the crab knows, the way we live.

My brother, my son

Asks me if the crab found its way home alright,

Shorely.

Here you can either

Be a priest, a Samaritan, or a little boy.

*

 

Mark & Luke, a baby.

 

Old wine will burst new wineskins and

The wine will be lost and so will the skins

Because new wine is for fresh skins,

And old wine has no place

Like a son’s head on his sister’s shoulder,

but he, a lawyer, desiring to justify himself –

My brother, my son

Desiring to justify me, pretends to be asleep.

*

 

Didi, can I come with you? So we can be neighbors?

 

*

 

Homeward.

 

I fall asleep in America with one of those books

That makes you dream about a house

“And its somewhere you know, but altered,

Full of strange new [terrifying] rooms.”

The fire in the hearth of the house stands up

And walks along the carpet

Hunting for the portrait of my family

To prove that fire takes better to oil

Than we do.

Asleep, I slipped into the walls of the house,

Trying to be the nail that holds the portrait

In place, the way one kisses their mother goodnight

To dull their fears of sleeping alone.

I wake far out in the sea I know, the Caribbean sea –

Mother, father, my brother dancing with the crabs on the shore

And I, watching

Voice liquid, sunburned back face fingers,

Paddle.

*

 

Portrait II.

 

My America, who is my neighbor?

He vomits and hangs his tongue like a beat dog,

Like he’d said his last prayer, like his tongue

Was of no use anymore and tired,

His fists in tight balls, as if he were clutching his own name

Or a sister he had before she ran away.

He learned the road to Jericho is just a road,

And that Jericho is just America,

And that America is just another ashen room.

I vomit.

 

Acknowledging Robert Montgomery

Nisha Jain is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. Comments may be sent to associate-editor@cornellsun.com. Sun Story Sundays appears alternate Sundays this semester.

 

 

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