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   the function of
   this tour is to invent

   the symbolic, to transform
   the human field into

   a pageant of meaning — we
   arise from our labor, comb

   our hair, put on our
   elements — we totter then

   stand, we move out into
   the world — the rift

   makes the ritual:
   a dervish, a bargain,

   a cadence, a threshold,
   the cog that makes us

   run — we dreamt a tapestry
   or shroud in which every

   text was sacred: we dreamt it,
   we wove it, begged it

   sing, then tore
   it down





   First, her

   Then     a more
       complicated matter

   so tiny and
           numerous that it takes forever

   You will want

   an open   window
             in an upstairs


   the white
       dress puddled

              at her feet

   The complexity

       is  to be waved off,

   and I


       toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

   Later, I wrote

       it was like riding    the night,

   What I can tell you is

   it was terribly


   nothing but

              a windowpane


       a loaded gun


   < NOTE: This poem is erasure/unmasking/disrobement of Billy Collins’ “Taking Off Emily
   Dickinson’s Clothes.”




Little Fable

great against a tree, smoking — the back of your hands, those awful headaches: we felt that we were in a darkened church: we knew it was right, it was really happening, and my job was to stay there: to remain invisible, taut, black bow against the flare line — the radio played the same songs again and we kept walking backwards — an inverted inventory — vigorous twilight and your cricket-mad voice — the human throat produces color, is religious, is romantic, stays behind yet keeps on walking — the daydream smokes a cigarette, is aware of your hair, is above in a flowerbox, like tulips in saucers, like mourning doves ever mourning of an evening, like a sliver of dark out there on the horizon — the thrum of night loads the fire escape, unfurls / slashes rain into a storm, like welding wind into night on the roof: the elegance of evening, of your still cupped hands — the moon a hook for the sky to hang on, the fog a grave sound — and my heart a filled silence, a little animal that is there beside you, briefly, then just as suddenly is gone — as if you were the fire, the little stars, the thrum of the engine moving us quickly / restlessly / relentlessly through space: the thing was we had turned into a door that we then had to walk through — and life went on, in a different kind of weather, with different stars churning overhead





   the old women rose with the moon
   twisting their gnarled arms across the sky
   they hovered over the places they had walked
   they passed the houses where they had lived as girls
   the dark, pine-arched roads where they had received first kisses
   and clutched at boys or other girls in the quickening dark
   they passed the hospitals or rooms where they had birthed children
   they passed the graves of children, they passed their own graves
   they tore light out of the stars and wore it as cloaks
   other light they flung to earth where it split apart and shattered
   they crowned each other with the wrecks of their longings and despairs
   they fell apart, cohered again, they spun with the weather
   they watched the world flame out, ignoring them at best or hating them
   they rose over the ridge like a troop of fixed stars



Donna de la Perrière

Donna de la Perrière is the author of two full-length books, True Crime and Saint Erasure. A third book, Works of Love & Terror, is forthcoming from Talisman House in the spring of 2019. She teaches in San Francisco and lives in Oakland. Read more at


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2019

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