Ward Stories
(Column: Ward Stories)
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Alison Carb Sussman has been living and writing in New York City for a number of years. She is the recipient of an honorable mention in the Amelia Magazine poetry contest. These poems first appeared on www.poetz.com, a poetry publishing site.

Alison welcomes comments on her poems and can be reached at AlisonCarb@aol.com. This editor's comment is that Alison's work is magnificent!

My Brain

My brain has fallen off its perch
like a baby hawk
dropping from its nest.
I look for it everywhere
especially in other people's faces,
and miss the dull grey matter
so intricately designed
so fragile
with its imbalance of chemicals.

My brain is the egg
the mother hawk sits on.
Soon it will crack open
and out will come a new baby
or maybe nothing will come
except a river of blood
a splash on perfect white
a dash of egg on egg.
I loved my grandfather
and now he's dead
so I can't ask him why
he gave his madness
to me.
Who is to say who gets one rain
and who gets another?
I walk my brain on a leash
through the streets,
and people come up to me
and say, Oh what a beautiful brain,
how old is it?
And I tell them
its brand new
because it takes in something
Delusion is a wild flight,
not the kind the hawk takes,
effortless and smooth,
but a crash and burn flight
like a training plane downed
in the dunes.
If you want to see anything, look up
at the avian world
where hawks, crows, pigeons,
sparrow, and gulls fly.
You can stay away for hours.
Or you can plummet down
into the darkness
of closed window, drawn shade,
the unmade bed,
the smell of stale bodies in the
the lamps that don't work,
the desk crammed with paper.
You don't know where
you are going yet
you have to push on, push
into that grey matter
of which you are so afraid,
follow its riverbeds and see
where they lead
to desert craters or water,
to mirage or lucidity.

Without Memory

I want to go to a place that has no memory.
Water has no memory, neither does light.
Water in my hands, pure, fresh.
No tortured nightmares.
A day that burns clear as the fire of a candle.
The rush of Spring in my nostrils,
cool, green; the taste of the good part of childhood,
diving off a board, the shock of cold brook.
I want memories to drip off me
and run away down the drains.
I hold a cuplet of water in my palm,
watch the wind ruffle its surface,
undisturbed by dreams.
Strip my body of memory
let it fall from a cliff
into the sea.
I am a particle of light.
I dance on the wind,
my heart lies sleeping
in a pool of water.
When I cry, that is memory departing,
a dead daughter
flying up to heaven.
The ocean, with its tides and sounds,
is full of the memories of a childhood spent alone.
It whispers of a lost father as I sit and dream by the shoreline.
If I could paint memory,
I would paint a faded yellow backdrop
with faint dribblings of pink.
Memory is the suffusion of blood
into water; when it evaporates,
it's gone.
I have blacked out much.
Memory is as deadly as mercury,
as poisonous as snakes, fire, smoke,
nuclear fission.
Memory can blow your eyes out of your skull.
I want to be born anew at every moment,
living without the birth sac of memory.
Born anew from a drop of rain,
born anew like the cry from a blue jay,
ripping through the air,
born anew in floods of sunlight
washing over the buildings across the way.
Born anew from my bed, my nest, the egg I hatch from
every day.
Haul me born anew from my grave,
take me to where waters beat
pure and fresh against the heartland
of the earth.
Bring me a freshet of fish.
Give me a name, so that I may
join the family of men and women.
Give me a country so that I may
die an honorable death.
Give me the gift of a blank mind
so I can absorb the world's music.
Give me me, in entirety, not crippled or maimed.
It is the hour when light stands still in the courtyard,
and figures stop hurrying to and fro,
and a long shadow falls from behind a building,
and a melted watch hangs from a tree.
The persistence of memory.
It will not get me.

Mother and Child

Your hands brush
my face
moths in the dark
the smell of camphor
on your lips
your hair reaching
towards me
the bristle of an old silverback
slack light in your eyes,
in them I unearth
generations of houses
paintings that have been
swept aside
porticos and couches.
Touch me in this shadowy,
narrow room.
Let our feet mingle…
It would have cost me nothing
to be a mother,
my body bearing fruit
to the world,
but with my bruised mind
it could have cost the child
her sanity, her life.
© 1999, Alison Carb Sussman
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