Angel Against Forgetting
after Carolyn Forche
“Poem as trace, poem as evidence”
What is the sound a daughter makes
as she’s being choked? What sound comes, from which one,
when the father removes his hands
from her throat?
You won’t find me
peering through a fence in a grainy military reel,
cheekbones jutting. You won’t find my name
in a European field of poppies. But this is not about experiences,
it is for me the opening
of a wound, the muffling and silence of a decade, a gathering
of utterances ….
At camp, jumping from the diving board,
I shattered my ankle
(always in the ER,
always in trouble,
hopeful this time he’d be nice
when he pulled back the curtain instead hissing,
this costs money)
What is the sound of in ruins, broken? I was casted, crutched, mended.
The way back is lost,
the one obsession.
I swung myself to the dining hall
to hang out with Jude the cook,
dumping orange powder into those battered,
beautiful aluminum pitchers, unbreakable in a
hundred girls’ hands
What is the sound of splintering, of the father grinding
whoever can cry should come here
Fucking thug Putin still as ice
at Sochi, earpiece glinting.
Camera pans the crowd,
Putin takes a call. Puts a finger up
to silence his wife, thin lips move,
You might relay the message the rivers and mountains remained
What is the sound of girl, smashing her leg
into a diving board? What song does extremity sing?
It’s cold as fuck day after day.
I’m starting to feel like Putin,
I loved Jude
unrolling my ACE bandage
the medicinal smell
the little clips
and oh I cried
when they came
to pick me up
They didn’t want you to know the past.
They were hoping in this way you could escape it.
They were hoping in this way they could escape it.
Nobody is born evil
— Alice Miller
People shift in their seats, and pick at their fingernails
when I say, it was incest, Dylan Farrow, me.
Urban myth: a modern story of obscure origin with little or no supporting evidence,
spread spontaneously … Sometimes pop culture
is of use. I left men in my wake, boys — they loved me.
Spent a week inside
a psych hospital in Minneapolis — nice airport, but I was insane —
until I met my fellow patients,
found: I was sane, just
shattered. I heard from my sister
that our mother went to a polyamory workshop
with our brother. I heard there were hot tubs. That’s all
I was willing to hear.
… and often has elements of humor, moralizing,
or horror … I used to think my mother
was his victim too. Dylan Farrow
pushes back in the Times. She’s a woman now.
It startles me anew: she is not believed. (Oh people love to say brilliant,
he is a brilliant filmmaker.)
When I was a young mother, reading People magazine,
I believed that Soon Yi might leave Woody when she was grown, that the Farrow clan
would fold her in, because her children,
their nieces, lived across the park … for example, Are there alligators
living in the New York City sewer system,
or is that just an urban myth?
My mother’s doublethink, Daddy was into weird stuff,
we went to parties, watched movies,
but he was never interested in children. Dylan Farrow changed her name
twice, to Eliza, then Malone. In first grade
I changed mine to Anne, wrote it on all my papers
until the parent-teacher conference
when my mother set things right, She’s such
an imaginative child.
Erica Bodwell is a poet and attorney from Concord, New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in PANK, Barnstorm, Hot Metal Bridge, Stone Highway Review, Cobalt, The Orange Room Review and other fine journals. She is currently at work on her first manuscript.