Read Our Andromeda Online

Authors: Brenda Shaughnessy

Our Andromeda

BOOK: Our Andromeda
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Contents

1. Liquid Flesh

2. Double Life

3. Arcana

4. Family Trip

5. Our Andromeda

1. LIQUID FLESH
Artless

is my heart. A stranger

berry there never was,

tartless.

Gone sour in the sun,

in the sunroom or moonroof,

roofless.

No poetry. Plain. No

fresh, special recipe

to bless.

All I've ever made

with these hands

and life, less

substance, more rind.

Mostly rim and trim,

meatless

but making much smoke

in the old smokehouse,

no less.

Fatted from the day,

overripe and even

toxic at eve. Nonetheless,

in the end, if you must

know, if I must bend,

waistless,

to that excruciation.

No marvel, no harvest

left me speechless,

yet I find myself

somehow with heart,

aloneless.

With heart,

fighting fire with fire,

flightless.

That loud hub of us,

meat stub of us, beating us

senseless.

Spectacular in its way,

its way of not seeing,

congealing dayless

but in everydayness.

In that hopeful haunting

(a lesser

way of saying

in darkness) there is

silencelessness

for the pressing question.

Heart, what art you?

War, star, part? Or less:

playing
a part, staying apart

from the one who loves,

loveless.

Head Handed

Stop belonging to me so much, face-head.

Leave me to my child and my flowers.

I can't run with you hanging on to me like that.

It's like having ten dogs on a single lead

and no talent for creatures.

No hands, no trees. Not my dogs, nobody's.

Don't you have a place to go, face-head?

Deep into the brick basement of another life?

To kill some time, I mean. That furnace

light could take a shine to you.

There are always places, none of them mine.

And always time—rainbow sugar show

of jimmies falling from ice cream's sky—

but that stuff's extra, it's never in supply.

“Never,” however, acres of it. Violet beans

and sarcasm. Too many flavors of it.

All those prodigal particles,

flimsily whimsical miracles, an embarrassment

of glitches. The chorus just
more us.

But nowhere bare and slippery have I

got a prayer. If I had two hands

to rub together I wouldn't waste the air.

All Possible Pain

Feelings seem like made-up things,

though I know they're not.

I don't understand why they lead me

around, why I can't explain to the cop

how the pot got in my car,

how my relationship

with god resembled that

of a prisoner and firing squad

and how I felt after I was shot.

Because then, the way I felt

was feelingless. I had no further

problems with authority.

I was free from the sharp

tongue of the boot of life,

from its scuffed leather toe.

My heart broken like a green bottle

in a parking lot. My life a parking lot,

ninety-eight degrees in the shade

but there is no shade,

never even a sliver.

What if all possible

pain was only the grief of truth?

The throb lingering

only in the exit wounds,

though the entries were the ones

that couldn't close. As if either of those

was the most real of an assortment

of realities—existing, documented,

hanging like the sentenced

under one sky's roof.

But my feelings, well,

they had no such proof.

Nemesis

The sun has its nemesis, evil twin star,

not its opposite but its spirit,

undead angel,

extra life. Another version.

The Andromeda Galaxy bears children

who become us, year after ancient,

ridiculous year. The children,

the alternatively filled selves unrecognizable

to our faeries, our animals and gods:

us utterly replaced.

The kids we were, rejected like organs

donated to the wrong body.

Why aren't they dear to us?

Why is that child least loved

by its own grown self?

If you aren't me then be banished from me,

weird orphan with limp and lisp.

Who, nameless brainsake, are you?

Not my substance or my shadow

but projectile vomit, a noxious gas.

Don't be me, please don't be me,

says the adult, looking back into wormhole

as if jumping into foxhole.

Not me, never again: that terrible child

with the insufferable littlesoul

and bad mom and sameself sister,

and balky, stalky brother

and monotone uncle and messed-with cousins,

and let's not even talk about the father,

the fater, pater, hated, fattened, late, latter dad.

Perhaps the Andromedans are such early

versions of us we can't hate yet, ghosts

or our pre-living selves, earliest babies.

Perhaps they're only life
like,
like

a robot cook or a motion detector,

not like a dog we love and know,

or claim to know,

who nonetheless attacks grandma

somehow. We say so, said so, toldya so.

That's what you get for believing in aliens,

for replacing our earhorn of plenty

with a megaphone of corpsedust.

Listen, it's moving closer, the Andromeda

Galaxy, this other us, this museum of mucus

and keyboards and keyboard fingertip records

that their governments are already optimized

to keep post-digitally. All of which looks

much more like a craps game to us, a hinky

life-filler, time-killer, the best selection of credit

card pill extensions with rapid-release hypo-air

no one but addicts can tolerate.

Only 2.5 million light-years away, lessening

daily, and that's collapsible

space, of course, made of light. Just flip

the switch and poof. We're there.

The space, then, the dog-run-sized length

between the golden retriever

and the Labrador retriever,

isn't so much space as time, and since time

is breath…well. Take a deep one.

We have all day, as a matter of objective fact.

Slip on a glossy patch of antimatter

and I've inhaled my unutterable

opposite potential self, smeared out

the tracing of my nemesis: Olympic

gymnast teen me or seventh-grade best friend

Shannon, or the cricket-eating

self-sister with the spiny-belled name I dream

at night and call out but can't ever know

in this world. Such a thing is called a soul?

A personality? Sometimes diagnosed “possession”?

Nemesis, namesake, nevermore.

O funny other self,

how I long to know you! You were ingested

so easily, absorbed like a lotion

in the desert. Even in the evening.

For there are no light years. Years are heavy.

There is only light. It never bends:

that's the property it mortgaged in order

to pick up speed. But parallel lines can meet

just like that if someone breaks the rules.

Some criminal sharing my name

or an alien name sharing my crime.

The rules are there are no rules.
Lingua franca.

Isn't the space between what is

and what coulda woulda Buddha been,

that same space between short skull

and long face, that oiled jaw hinged

for supple expression, for saying

and blaming and braying and allaying

and naming:
I this
not
I that,
tit not tat,

want not waste, and
yes
not
yes, but…

What your mother

tells you over and over to shut,

to smile, first to not talk to strangers

and then be kind to them.

To sponsor the tail of another winner's

horse. To Go for It.

To become something in this life.

But once the gardenias

are floating in seawater for the themed gala

of your body, this special night,

they are dying, bacteria or no bacteria,

life against life, this world

butted up against the next.

Simultaneity aside, we are all next.

All go to the light.

Heavily, with our childhoods we go.

I'll go with my stars,

and my sorry body, stranger

to myself, will say go.

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