[ToC]

 

3 POEMS

Amy Newman

 

DIAGRAM c/o Ander Monson
Dept of English, PO Box 210067
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721-0067

1 January

Dear Editor:

Please consider the enclosed poems for publication with Diagram. They are from my manuscript, X = Pawn Capture, a lyrical study of chess as we played it in my family: the first move has to take place while everyone is thinking about something other than chess. For my grandparents diversion was love, and between his rage-filled checkmates and her play dates with saints, they braided my teenage years spent mostly schooling and listening and keeping the house free of insects. 

When in our backyard caterpillars mastered the flowering dogwoods, and our neighbor rapped on the trees with a stick to disperse them, her image reminded my grandmother of Hortense tormenting Germana Cousin for her presumed pilfering of a small loaf of bread. Germana opens her dress and her saintliness is revealed as summer flowers tumble out in a herald of love and beauty.  Here my grandmother saw chastisement and the Holy Hand of her Invisible Lord Partitioning The Mortals with some tiny visuals about The Power and The Glory but I thought if so He was really Just Sprinkling the World with His Blossoms and Berries, and if Germana’s cottons could give way to an onrush of flesh, abandoning its pinks and greens and holy stamens and anthers and spilt maple leaves and maybe even ruffles of filaments and pollen, might it ever be under my opened dress, this mound of petals, with my thin body lighter than bone from what I knew? So when I looked up and the neighbor was walking away over broken dogwood blossoms snowing down, I wished hard for a language that would tell you of this beautiful sight which I have never before seen, not even on a holy card, and this in spite of my grandmother’s hissing at our neighbor and retrieving a rake.  I spent the afternoon carrying away the remainders of Germana ‘s undressing and tried to find a dictionary I could bring to my room. Because beautiful is a word that my workshop class says is ineffective, that it doesn’t contain how this sight captures my attention and convinces me, absorbs and converts me away from the yard, so that the closest kin might be diverting, which the class might find archaic, and if that’s true, then I don’t know how to say that everything in the backyard might be pretending to be lovely in order that we can all get up in the morning.

Thank you for your consideration, and for reading.  I have enclosed an SASE, and look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Amy Newman


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DIAGRAM c/o Ander Monson
Dept of English, PO Box 210067
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721-0067

15 December

Dear Editor:

Please consider the enclosed poems for publication with Diagram.  They are from my manuscript, X = Pawn Capture, an exploration of how my grandfather used chess as a way to divert a child’s attention from the absence of love between her grandparents and my attempts to capture in language their magnificent silences, which could have been visitations from ethereal beings for all they told me.  

The pawns on the chessboard are workers, hard workers who get no thanks in this life, as my grandfather would explain. That’s why there are more pawns than any other pieces, because life is hard and tiring, and they suffer, and are sacrificed, so that the community can continue and the game can be played.  I would like to see the knight protect a pawn once in a while, especially a girl pawn, who has let her hair down the long side of a castle and allowed him to climb up its vermillion border.  But my grandfather tells me that a girl pawn would be run out of town on a rail because she would be nothing but trouble, a bee in the bonnet of the community with her frills and her soft skins and the hiding of the special areas, and the Queen, of all pieces, would see to it that any young lady who came calling even to remark what a cold day we have! or how are you doing kind sir? would not last long, he might say while watching my grandmother peel from an eternal mound of onions one large and stubborn skin that unrolled only in bits and flakes.

But if the girl pawn was trapped in the castle piece and the knight watched her sighing, day after day, I think then that even the chokeberries that the birds devoured outside our windows on these cold days might instead stay in their first, pure, flowery blooms, so impressed the space outside our house would be by the atmosphere of real high school love, and not whatever it was that made the boy who was trying out for the football team stare from the corner of our street as I stumbled away like a spent insect after a curious and feeble forced embrace, lips entirely embarrassed and neck dismayed at his scratchy growth that assaulted, rearranging my shirts and skirts which were only pulled at a little but when I got home and undressed in my room, my blouse would refuse to crumple in a heap that didn’t look compromising.  And outside my window no steadfast knight, who would rather die than force his hands down the open collar of my blouse and giggle while his knees pressed and pried like a tweezers. No knight outside in the cold air awaiting with glistening eyes by the chokecherries, sighing, or anyone interested in seeing if my hair, now gleaming and yellow and strong as steel, would lift them to some noble cause. In the kitchen my grandmother tore at the spice leaves, and in the main room my grandfather remained, forever irritated at chess.

Thank you for your consideration, and for reading.  I have enclosed an SASE, and look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Amy Newman


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DIAGRAM c/o Ander Monson
Dept of English, PO Box 210067
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721-0067

29 March

Dear Editor:

Please consider the enclosed poems for publication with Diagram.  They are from my manuscript, X = Pawn Capture, and you know all about it. Like everything else n the world, as I deduce from probability class and statistics and beauty, the paths we make with our little bodies through this universe half-real, half-jellied like summer sherbet, are small but significant.  I might make a comparison with the pretty marks a chicken’s foot makes in the scratch, or the way a low bending pine branch will write on spring mud, patiently, in the quiet March wind.  And that’s what’s going on now.  The tree branch is weighed down from the thaws, nodding and moving the wet dirt, and I am here, writing to you, while my grandmother stands in her boots and coat, burning another stack of mail.  I recognize the stamps on the envelopes, of course. From this distance and in her winter coat, I might mistake grandmother for Euphrosyne, the saint who renounced her possessions, dressed as a man, and for years instructed her own father in the spiritual life, until she revealed herself and her own father broke into blossoms and shook with truth.  But above the burning and the smoke of the metal bin where your replies are smoldering is the kind and shining face of Teresa, reading the ash, and a stunning bundle of pale green petals, and many, many, patterning birds.  I wish you could see this.

Thank you for your consideration, and for reading.  I have enclosed an SASE, and look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,  

Amy Newman

 

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On the poem:Newman