Elegy for a Forty-Three Pound Woman with Mental Retardation
Autumn and you are in your mother’s house.
__________Plants no longer turn
_____but fail down to the soil
_______________from which they sprung.
To be sure I can’t speak properly to you until Winter
_____when the kindly rescuer appeared to find you
alive and moving, resuscitating a growing need on a soiled mattress
one chain away from death in a room you’ve never escaped.
_____Thus you, my joyless seed, sprout.
____________________Could you often hear
_____the butchers’ feast being torn into by mouths in the outer rooms?
Partitioned again the body that is end-stopped. This world
__________did not fall from my head.
_____An ornate impotence arose with the descent of you, and instead
of the too much to say to tell a truth, I’m burdened by a phlegm-thick mouth, my sounds
_______________throat bound and the entire vocal
__________apparatus breaks at the appearance of
_____the French word for apology. I do not sorry.
And so it is that experience becomes
____________________remoteness from you and where and how
_____you were recovered, nude save a diaper, which you filled
____________________You haunt my lunches henceforth:
eyes obsidian looking back at me: with the warning, this is you.
_______________I waste my food, mingle it with all the others
_____in the cafeteria’s heaping garbage bin. Always luxuriating
in decomposition I think of your hunger and your distance
____________________from being sated. Yet you have
have survived the compost heap, becoming a new
__________drift engendered from a decayed parent system.
_____Was it not a type of softness, kindness that laid you initially
down ___onto the mattress? And you thinned like a blade
unable to come to an end. I know you are alive somewhere,
__________protein into your stomach, and I know too because
our luck doesn’t run in that direction. Of all the mad things to wish,
____________________your death is the one unmet by my madness.
_____Just be dead already so I may lead the choir
_______________through practice of your dirge. I’ve chastised
____________________them for prematurely practicing their lilts
_____and guffaws and their throaty chuckles. Rare phenomenon, white music,
_______________denying your own existence yet still issuing waste,
and until there is a word for that,
__________a name for you, the limpid melodies composed
_____and my static accompaniment on the piano falter in your name.
_______________You heard all this and worse
while in your mother’s house where
_____your sole wish was to cut yourself open, expose your perfect interior
_______________to the eyes circling about you.
Perhaps you too heard your requiem. All the more reason to cut off an ear.
Mutilation is a lesser goal of the slaughterhouse. Peer inside it.
__________Equiposed between the animate and the inanimate the terms
_____are laid thus: You, profoundly disabled; me, profoundly incapable.
_______________My thinness, keep your thoughts on me and
__________what I bleed on the killing floor. Here am I
leaning over the butcher’s block with knives
__________shiny and clinical—that much I can promise you.
_______________Disarticulate the memory from the body so finally, here, away from
your mother’s house, in the abattoir-of-what-we-can’t-give-you,
__________I determine our roles in the fantasy
until the fated removal occurs and I the butcher hold
_____the beef heart in my palm, and I lob
____________________the organ onto the table. Its dark melt pools.
Ethan J. Hon is from Omaha, NE. He is an editor at JERRY Magazine and a contributing editor at The New Inquiry. He is adjunct faculty at LIM College.