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EDITOR'S CHOICE: cynthia linville's

Jane Blue

Square 1 by Tray Drumhann
Square 1 by Tray Drumhann

My Sister Takes a Tour
by Jane Blue

The contractor leads the way through our childhood
rooms, painted wedding
white. The house is being restored.
It can’t be put back exactly the way it was.
Neither can we. The leaded-windowed
floor-to-ceiling china cabinets
ripped out long ago, Lenox and Limoges
flickering ghostly.
Our grandmother’s heart was there.

Later somebody nailed a plaque to a gate, etching
the name of the famous man who’d lived there.
He never did. He’d been dead
seven years when she bought the house with her own
earned money. Raised four children there,
then us, our mother humiliated back home. Shadows
of all of us together in that house, our mother,
our aunt, two uncles; our father
a stopped secret; our grandfather a solemn
sepia man.

She worked at a vast desk downstairs,
sacrosanct, papered all over, until she died
in the four-poster bed with pineapple finials, a dent
where she’d saved a place for him in the thin mattress,
the husband she never stopped loving, and mourning
and hating for leaving her before they’d begun, the gold
band and the diamonds still on her skeleton
bones even now.

The wainscoting, the rosewood fireplace,
the high beamed ceilings remain, but the rooms
are bare, and smaller somehow.

* * *

The Body of Pangelinan Cruz at Land’s End
Discovered April 2006, San Francisco
by Jane Blue

There was no skull in the treehouse,
but skeletal remains
with some clothing attached. The hand
alone has 27 bones. Was it open
or grasping?

I see you motherless, I see you feral.

You disappeared into the cypress, like Ceos
of myth, weaving a floor of branches,
enmeshing yourself,
below Eagle’s Point, below the museum.

Your work boots slung over limb-rafters,
text books splayed open randomly,
an ID in the name of Frank Pangelinan Cruz, born
Oct. 7, 1943, in Guam. Your sister
was looking for you, Frank,
since 1984.

The hollering of gulls,
their silver and white bodies reeling
over the Land’s End trail, over the precipice,
the blue or green or gunmetal gray depths,
calm, or more likely, bustling with whitecaps.

You’d installed shades on your windows of air
against a pelt of wind. Your ceiling
the turning Zodiac
or the cold wool of fog.

You could have been dead for a year, your skull
bouncing down to the spectacular Pacific, the plates,
the closed fontanelle, the occipital bones

I see you with hair like lichen, a raccoon
befriending you, stealing food
from the museum café, tarts
with fruit glazes, half a ham sandwich
on sourdough bread; the creature
masked, an offering
in the clawed cup of her hands.

You were traced to McAllister Street
but no one there could even imagine you.
You were traced to the swept plain outside Petaluma
where even the grasses are lonely.

I’ve been there.

And in the round drive of the museum,
the saltfish wind and pungence of cypress.

* * *

The Things I Find in the Wash
by Jane Blue

A small piece of paper, wiped clean in the wash,
creased. A receipt?
Like a hand with mysterious life lines,
an aged, crumpled face. An ancient
parchment, a scientist in a lab
might discern the writing, another
in another lab would say something different.
A tiny Agnes Martin painting, lost
in a quiet room in Taos, New Mexico.
White on white, either nonsense or genius.
I choose genius. It is so tough, it won’t give up.
They weren’t small, the Agnes Martins.
This one secreted in my pocket
when I wasn’t looking. By whom?
A secret message like a book.
You bring to it what you are. The convoluted
lines of a lie. How to dispose of the body;
It’s even funny, because life is messy.
There’s just the tiniest tear.

Jane Blue

Jane Blue was born and raised in Berkeley, California. Her poems have been published in many magazines, such as Stirring, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Avatar Review, Convergence, The Chattahoochee Review, Poetry International and The Louisville Review. Her most recent books are Turf Daisies and Dandelions (Rattlesnake Press) and The Persistence of Vision (Poet’s Corner Press). She lives near the Sacramento River with her husband, Peter Rodman.

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