by Anne Marie Rooney
The Fruit Flies
It is the last night of the Cloud Cliff
Arts Festival. White people gather
in the gold ampitheatre. Standing room
only: hats and purple coifs brush
the shining ceiling. A large black
woman appears on stage. Her eyes
are Pacific and her cumulus hair,
like a quiet storm above. It is Gloria.
Gloria! After all these years.
I take off my sunglasses and begin
to cry. Outside, the trees are moving.
Ronald Reagan hunts fruit flies
in his beautiful people suit.
Child remember night and day...
First concerning the cup
You move fast from this temple, you fast
with a living water.
A running water. This is a story
forever moving. The morning fresh
You drink cold water and if there is no cold water
then warm. These mountains bore you. These crags
You are a new sea, you rock
and raise fierceness. Soon
you will strum wind. Fast
and deep. The torch
song is an old one. Soft
and dark. Leave this.
You are the fox woods.
You are the teeth of deer.
You rise with puddles
You come with boatloads
of lost clouds.
And concerning the broken bread
Tell the stories before praying. Tell the stories
you were told. Let your prayers come emptied
of light. Wash your body in a beautiful river.
For the drum of your body
For your grief in the morning
For you are the witness,
the first and the last. Your flesh
is your own. Your voice is the sound
of many waters. You are jasper and carnelian,
the smell of white stone. You are olive oil and wine,
your face is shining. This morning
is many colors.
Holy of holies. Be received.
As this bread was scattered in the mountains
As you walked the towers with hands of water.
As the sky smelled of flour.
For the clouds turned to grey and then to black.
As the night rose from the sea.
As the sea turned to nectar.
For the evening came braided with a trued water.
For you drank and it filled your throat with fire.
For you were the glory and forgiveness
and you moved with a terrible thunder.
For you lay in the lightning in the day's last hour.
For the sky fell upon your broken face like a fist.
For when they asked for your name, you said "This."
Let no one eat or drink
You stroked a quiet music
and you became music.
You became quiet.
You came with your teeth
and watered throat
and you gave these too. Gently
the night fell around you.
the stars filled with a humming milk.
You lifted buckets from the tallest hill.
Gently your mouth bloated
you slicked your silver tongue
across the moon.
of your eucharist
Of the birds
and their crying.
Of a mother's sound, broken
from her first. Listen:
You are of the guiltless
skin. The unstitched. Of the river
before it drowns
its name. You are the trunk
to that river. You are the nest
of steeping moss.
You come from the water
and you return. That river
will drown under another
This storm is sewn
of a darker light. A bruise
of spring fruit. One
One swollen sky.
The Talent Competition
The talent competition for the Ms. Oklahoma contest
was about to begin and I couldn't find my chastity belt.
I scoured the green, then blue, then red rooms. Backstage,
everything was aflutter. Carrie was polishing her shovel
while Nadine recited the entire entry for rattlesnake,
American, by heart. It was all very fine. I almost forgot
about the bluish-pink accessory. But all at once, the curtains'
horrible whispers hushed and the show began. I loped onstage,
like a shiny gasoline bandit. Cough and aerosol filled
the dry air. At a loss, I told a story about sweating
doves. When I looked up, the camera tears were streaming.
They had overlooked my indiscretion. I was overwhelmed
by joy. And there it was, in the third row! I lit a match
and dove, brilliant, into the astronauts.
Anne Marie Rooney recently earned her B.A. in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. A poem is forthcoming in Parthenon West Review.