Poetry: Matthew Broaddus
It’s Good to Be Ashurnaspiral II
The dunes part. Enter oasis. I emerge from the desert on my immaculate Bactrian, sipping an adult beverage from one of those neon crazy straws and tipping my hat to no one in particular. My pride of lions, cast in copper radiance by the god Ninagal, tails me and can’t be bothered to roar beneath the midday sun. I take a lap in the pool, have a date or two, and survey the area. I lost a palace here once, I think. I used to lose my temper. Under the palm shade, I try again my book on information theory, but it’s useless. My camel spits. Best get going. I glance over the sand a last time, the cities I buried, the people crying out.
I have to head east. East, where the clouds are assembled in horizontal fleets. You would never write like this. Everything you’re writing is so devastating. “There is a mother. There is a boyfriend.” But I have to say the clouds were sky-blue pink. You aren’t familiar with sky-blue pink, and that’s okay. Maybe I’m the only one who calls it that. I have to head east. We dream awake at your kitchen table in Los Angeles. You’re holding a bottle of something warm and laughing your laugh that reaches up, kicks its way out of your deep places, the pink sweater, and hits me on the head. If you looked at me, could you tell me what color my eyes are? What colors they are. I have to say the clouds were sky-blue pink. Even at night. Even in Los Angeles. It’s so cold in Palmyra, Virginia, in December. At night there are houses that turn slate and cobalt and frost, and there are solitary windows filled with an orange burst. You would like it. You would never write like this. This is my crisis. It’s nearly silent. You color code your closet. The quiet light, my hands, and eighteen months are on your kitchen table. I don’t even know your boyfriend. I want to hide in your shower. Won’t you sit in the tub with me? Our clothes can be on.
Theban women dismember everyone. As a rule. White sheets mean innocence. I don’t want to go back to our innocent bed. Opening night at the gallery. I want to watch this canvas seethe. I want to think about the fury inherent in an object. Cranberry juice in ice cube molds. The after-party. Pink skulls and crossbones float in our champagne. You spend the evening throwing your hair around. Two hundred painted eyes watch. Blood irises.
Matt Broaddus is a PhD student in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his MFA in creative writing from New York University. His poetry has recently appeared in Whiskey Island, Barnstorm, Switchback, and elsewhere. He is originally from Virginia.
Image: Wikimedia Commons