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Self-Portrait in Her Inherited Wreck

After Adrienne Rich


I end each day with a new name for city.       Today I’ve seen

inside a tunnel,            its emetic rivers           an epithet        my blood

responds to with ease.                         With ease I should      look to my citizens

to assess like    the dripping crag my   debts.  I end each day

on the back of a housefly,      our hunger       the same.

One name        for my city is quota; another name     sick. I left a man

to rummage     the cupboards, four crackers   to my   name:

I am proud      of the bones    my city            lets surface, these

monuments from the sand. My guilt               is plastic, it wraps

poison film      of my stomach            the way I think            of him now.

One name yenta,         another, paperless bill.            Today my poet died    but

I’m not done   with the trash or the terror     of fathoms. The honorable fear

means   knowing nothing, the head arrhythmic and   ground as the braking train

its anguish also its       limit:    I’m sorry. I refuse      the part

in my commute           where I end     on an image.    Threadbare.    Augur.

What can be said         for the tulips can         be said of my timesheets

the love of day they                exhaust is the same.    Today I am

searching the   rigmarole where          my luck ran out. One name     rich.

One name finished. Pocked and brideless strangers   they whistle You didn’t.

Nobody sees me          it’s true.           When a herd of boys march    down my street

a beautiful illusion will end     with disgust. Dressless I’ll    crawl

the tracks         a cadre of dirt,           my city cabled to a lady in ermine.

Yesterday’s end          sits in my wallet,        private,             insufferably clean.

Natalie Eilbert