Five Poems by Joan Colby
The Lazy Eye
The lazy eye slides inward
Learning to see aslant.
A nuanced vision where no surprise
The solution is correction,
The black patch of piracy to foster
The greed of binocular conviction.
The cross-eyed attitude
Of a seeker disturbs the scenery.
If that’s a resolution, show me
Where the borders of good luck
Are fenced-in barb wire
Where the children on the roofs
Of cattle cars cling to a
Blistered landscape unfolding
Before their eyes.
The Faroese love rot.
They hang the lamb until
It is marbled green
As a countertop. A block
Of ruined veins. Fermenting
Everything is their cuisine
Along with kelp and puffin eggs.
These islands claim more sheep
In the Congo, bushmeat is ordained
To tease the appetite. The Bander-Log
Hullabaloo of monkeys. Skulls sliced
For cups to hold palm wine. A dish of brains
On banana leaves. It’s said this is how
Ebola spreads or HIV.
The Japanese prefer fish raw.
So impolite in a people who bow
With clasped palms that can also shove
Until the train-cars jam, body to body.
Contradictions, said Whitman, bloom everywhere
Like weeds to choke the grass he loved.
A man with no other means
Of protest will not eat.
His body a weapon of sharp bones.
Thus women earned the vote,
Their jaws wrenched wide
As they thinned to arrows,
Into checkmarks on a ballot.
Anorexic girls die for an image
In a magazine. The famous jockey
Snacks on a single peanut.
The anchorite fasts in the desert hut
Like the Lakota boy who learns his true name
After days of starvation.
Dogs of the Filipinos,
Cheval of the French,
Seals of the Eskimo,
Songbirds of the Vietnamese.
Nothing is taboo
From the exploring palate.
The Donner party ate their families.
The faithful eat the body of the Lord.
The Last Peaches
The last peaches have rotted,
Stippled with grey-blue bruises,
A too-sweet odor, not yet deathly.
They’d bought too many,
Tree-ripened from the south,
Not the hard baseballs from California
Shipped in refrigerated semis.
He says he hasn’t had such peaches
In years, sucking the peachy-yellow flesh,
Cleft like a woman. She slices hers
Into bite sizes, small as kisses.
She puts the sack in the trash,
It is late September now.
In the paper, she reads about a couple
Returning home to find the peach tree
They had tended all summer stripped
Of its wealth—a hundred peaches,
Not one left. A neighbor joked
About holding peaches for ransom.
It seems mean: the theft,
The heartlessness. She thinks a hundred peaches,
How many could two people eat?
How many would have rotted?
Her mother used to preserve peaches in glass jars
Where they delicately browned
Like people with a liver disease.
Some cultures believe the liver is the seat
Of emotion, not the heart, a simple pump.
The liver—indispensable waste-hauler.
Trapped juices of ascites.
She longs for stasis.
Branches swinging with their glory
At its height. The succulence of a
Fresh plucked peach.
Every taste-bud watering.