November 14th, 2021
Poems by Beatriz Seelaender
Artwork by Olivia Shea
Rubaiyat for Women Made into Hurricanes Overnight
A moment of silence for women whose names got swept up overnight by hurricanes
Despite having come first and before, after the hurricane the connection remains
And for every cognitively dissonant Katrina, Irene, or Maria,
There is one who rushes, swirls, has a taste for destruction, and cannot well be contained.
Even more tragic is that impulsive elements are not usually baptized, however:
No tsunamis, droughts, or any similar endeavour
Though Katrina was once 87th in recorded births, she soon surpassed it in deaths
We should take it as advice never to spite a Meteorology Professor.
But how can they reclaim the dignity of a name’s patent?
For preceding hurricanes, there seems to be no clear precedent
They’d do better to wait for another disaster
After which someone else’s weather shall turn out to be inclement…
Whirligigs warn you of the incoming threat on their radar
The name, off the radar, jumping ship from the charts
You’ll never meet anyone else like her, in the process of extinction
Instead of “pure” as in Katherine, Katrina is as pure as an abattoir.
Her greatest misfortune is to carry a hurricane namesake
That nails her character down to all that she undertakes
Confirming her truly erratic and dizzying nature
The view from the eye is only the I, exempt of emergency brakes.
Be mindful however of a phenomenon striking all nations
The impending threat that we call girlbossification
Be hurricanelike in a context of poetry, not of marketplace feminism
For slogans and truisms will render you rid of respect and vocation.
In the spacious relief of certain doom
Hopeful lamentations bloom
Furies cut Ariadne’s string
As Aunt Penny threads the loom.
Shed and signed away are these invisible wings
tied to the children desperate to get rid of childish things
Icarus might’ve forgotten about sunscreen, which
did melt and burn his, but this does not burn but it stings.
She undoes the stitches
we’ve been told were only wishes
and did not really exist.
The original fabric undone, dispatched, and ditched
– zigzag crisscrossing unseemly – tossed, turned and switched
with a new incompatible piece seamlessly sewn together beneath
No one should tell the difference between the before and the glitch.
Aunt Penny lives to sew another day, unravel at night
Always waving the warp of her time.
Hanging by one of her threads, a sacrifice from Thetis to the Lethe:
About to be bathed is the loose baby tooth unsheathed
by a slam of the door – hanging from the knob, now the scissors,
and then it’s over: no one ever mourns the milk teeth.
Elegy for the Video-Store
The video-store is a bubble-gum gunshot to the tongue
By the gasoline trails on the sidewalk
Just out of class, nostrils and hands with a thin layer of chalk
Film in the mouth from the chewing gum, film in the smell about the spot.
Search for that French-Canadian movie we could never find again
Gang-up the girls on the boy who’s tired of watching Grease and complains
Says he’ll rent out a film for himself and watch it in a different room
He swears that he will if we don’t find a compromise any time soon.
I stare at the seasons of series stacked up together
Compare the faces of the main characters on the covers, and wonder whether
they looked older or better or had left the show altogether
but no one wants to watch episodes for our Saturday afternoon movie session.
For of course we shall choose the same film that we choose every weekend
Perhaps there’s an alternate unspoken rule to the rite
Some of the tapes we forget have been stretched out or stiffened
The surprise pause prompts a break for our microwaved popcorn plight.
Our ultimate choice might’ve looked better under fluorescent lights
We curse at the people who had not the common courtesy to rewind
We open up our three identical beach chairs and fight about which one is actually ours
But once we are settled we know every line to shout and recite.
They used to have sections for both DVDs and the tapes
Programmed obsolescence would soon enough lower the bar
And as we got older we also grew chronically late
Some things seemed so present, now we stare at them from afar.
The one by my grandparents’ house now a nail salon,
The one by my school now a centre for medical testing,
By the gas station, it’s a Subway sandwich shop that lives on
All prime real estate fit for divesting.
But popcorn and bubble-gum vendors are still out and about
By the school and the station and even my grandparents’ house
The last time I rented a movie was 2012
2001 was the name of the very last store to unshelve.
We get the original for our parents, and the remake flops
Nostalgia might be the most powerful of all the idols
Black-and-white double features in technicolour subtitles
The video-store is a bubble-gum gunshot that pops.