by Deirdre O’Connor
A Man and A Name
A man fucks a woman, then is smitten by another
with her name. He is like the sky’s coincidence,
never the same cumulonimbi, but always the sky.
He is in the look of the gift horse, the whites
of the horse’s eyes. Together, the man and the woman
inhabit a certain reddish gray
like hydrangea dust in lace at an inn they might have visited;
apart, they live the finest distinctions,
the first-name basis of difference
which hates what it might love.
A name is a tool, after all, a strategy, not a hat rack,
though both have cursive elements, branches and hooks.
Even a name, like desire, can be owned not at all.
Braid against better wishes.
The self is winter’s luxury for the alone.
Self Portrait as Autistic Sky
Nothing I can name, but in perception
there’s spinning. Stimuli in the distances:
suns, planets, moons, cosmic rocks
in transit. Sometimes, almost palpable, blue goes gray;
blue black; black blacker; all the shades of white
go away. The silvers and the lightning
may be forked attempts to reach,
Precipitation flows through:
much is that transparent, needling.
Some look up to understand,
but I am not horizon-bound.
I do not presume (like looking up words)
there is a book,
though maybe there are boundaries, pages
maybe, something to say it on like me.
Deirdre O’Connor is the author of Before the Blue Hour, which received the Cleveland State Poetry Center Prize and was published in 2002. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Crazyhorse, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Frontiers, Sou’wester, Natural Bridge, Painted Bride Quarterly, and other journals. She directs the Writing Center at Bucknell University, where she also serves as Associate Director of the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.