Pastoral

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Where did it start? In a city of gardens & muck.
When I held someone close, in watery light.
We drank & I bled all the way home.

Red-orange light on my legs. Oh, wow
that blink-blink of bright, that flip of the pulse.
Where did it start? In the garden, the muck

where insects jumped in starry arcs. My body
took shape, then. A greenhouse I entered alone.
We drank & I bled all the way home.

I wore so many clothes. Cotton, cotton, wool.
I burned in my skin like a stone. How, exactly?
Where did it start? There, in the muck

no one saw how we blazed into poppies.
Light raked through our bellies like combs.
We drank & I bled all the way home.

Now, I put myself to bed. My dreams
are coins to dispense as I like. On water. On light.
In a city of gardens & muck, you can start

to feel rich. You can start to feel right
& tumble for years down the hill of your life. You ask
Where does anything start? In muck. In a garden.
You drink the drinks & bleed. You’re foam.

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Click here to read Kiki Petrosino on the origin of the poem.

Photo:  “Estuary-feet” by Andy Hay ; licensed under CC BY 2.0

Kiki Petrosino:
I recall my twenties as a series of glimpses: walking home after a party in Iowa, cheap sneakers slipping on the sudden dancefloor of ice. Or: reading Tales of the Jazz Age in an empty sleeper car, the look of my thumb against dry pages. In these glimpses, I’m usually alone and traveling and sad, even though that’s not quite right. My memories click against each other like glass marbles. I turned 21 in Piazza Santa Croce and I turned 30 at Vesuvio Café. Important things happened to my heart in between, things that I can’t quite get to now; I may have dreamed them, or something like them. This poem is what emerged when I tried to trace that time, which felt a lot more like Dante’s “dark wood” than Virgil’s Arcadia. As such, the title winks at my own struggle to put my memories into some kind of order.