Eloise Klein Healy

from The Islands Project: Poems For Sappho

Not Disappearing
Why I Call on Artemis, not Aphrodite

Red Hen Press, 2007

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Say it's the memory of early mornings
in the shop, the power lift raising a car
in the dawn light, steam lifting off the highway
in front of the garage, and tools
coming to life at the touch of a hand.

Say it's the clang of things, the ping
of ball bearings pouring into a pan
and then a gush of gas from the pump,
the cleaning rag running over
the steely marbles to spark their shine.

Up the hill, the farm horse's shoes
tap against the gravel on the road,
the tack clinks and groans, the barn doors
bang and creak and corn stalks screech
against each other in the wind.

Say it made me hanker for hard things,
want to get outdoors first light, handle sticks
and dead tires, bang old mufflers together
and bam a ball peen hammer
against a scrap of sheet metal behind the shop.

It made me not want dolls and the demands
of indoors—quiet in the parlor, quiet by the stove.
It made me a woman of landscape and weather
and suspicious of my place. Say it gave me
a chrome handle to a different and difficult world.

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Not Disappearing

The poems I write
to you, Sappho,
seem bird-bone light
in comparison
to my poems about cars
and the freeway
and the heavy-metal centuries
in which I've lived.

Something disappears
when I talk to you,
and it also happens
that each word's history
leads to a question—

what nouns and verbs
could we share
straight up?

I think the most beautiful words
are drifting, smoky things
with such long histories
you would have known them
as I would know them:

the moon,
waves and boats,
laurel trees.

I think we both know the meaning
of a line of women walking
back from the beach,
some singing, some
carrying baskets—
and one who runs ahead,
runs not in a direct line,
but dips like a swallow—

and a cloudless pale blue sky.

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Why I Call on Artemis, Not Aphrodite

because there was no hearth
because there was no home
because there was no place or position

that came down of its own accord

at the barricades
at the defense of the clinic
at the staging area

before the cameras arrived
before the demonstrations
before the broadcasts

in line for the signs
in rain and wind outside the building
in constant phone communication

where the buses embarked
where the flyers were printed
where the marchers gathered

doing the paperwork
doing the fact checking
doing the scheduling

because we were women
who met in the time of struggle
and loved in the alleys of ourselves

and fell to our knees in our knowledge
and fell on each other in thirst and hunger
and fell into love in an endless time of war

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all poems

 www.eloisekleinhealy.com  .  eloisekleinhealy@mac.com