Elena Georgiou, Tarpaulin Sky Poetry



Fall 03


Book of the Things I Put Down My Bra




     I cram it with thesauruses, new ones from stores,
old ones from markets, pocket-sized dictionaries,
LPs, CDs, whatever keeps words close to my skin.

     And jasmine from the trellis outside my parents’ house;
the place where red dust on the veranda flies in from Libya;
the place where I say, No, what he meant was . . .
No, what she was trying to say was . . .

     And if it is lacey, I tuck breezes into the left cup,
sand in the right—a holiday in my sternum;
ripples that lead to my cleavage—an island
clothed in the almond flowers of spring.

     And keys; keys to my locker at the gym;
keys for offices I use now and again;
keys to the homes of friends
who ask questions of life and hope
their plants will reply.

     And coins; gorgeous, green, hexagonal threepenny bits,
abandoned when twenty shillings no longer made a pound;
coins engraved with Republic, United, and Great;
quarters for laundry and phone calls to people
who have gone to Apocalypse Now.

     And scraps of satin I salvaged from an antique nightgown.

     And the backs to earrings that fall in the street.

     And the earrings themselves—
intricate pairs; identical, in love
but no one accuses them of narcissism.

     And ice cream that melts a trail to the underwire.

     And a tongue to lick it up.

     And breasts that belong to another woman.

     And a beard.

     And, of course, my breasts.

     And honeysuckle.

     And consider the lilies.

     And stones from New Orleans,
the Baths of Aphrodite, Aphrodite’s birthplace,
Aphrodite’s Rock, and Hampstead Heath.

     And Russian dolls that grow
smaller and inside each is a love I cannot hear
when I hold their open bodies to my ear.

     And a poem fragment that says:
To understand me you have to swallow
a world.

     And another that says:
Most of what matters in my life happens
in my absence.

     And: Excuse me
while I kiss the sky.

     And if my bra is made of silk, I can’t tell
the difference between a firefly and a star;
and I crawl to steady myself
beneath the enormousness of the sky, where I fly
with Icarus—together, we don’t die.

     And lastly, receipts for the sound of blue
November moons;
receipts for my sofa, my camera,
my bed; for lovers I forgot to return;
for books I haven’t yet read;
especially, this receipt for a new alarm clock
set to National Public Radio.

     And the news that wakes me up.


Elena Georgiou lives in Brooklyn and teaches poetry and creative writing at Hunter College in New York and Goddard College in Vermont. She is the author of Mercy Mercy Me (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003) and co-edited, with Michael Lassell, the anthology The World in Us (St. Martin's Press, 2001) She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellowship, Astraea Emerging Writers Award, and Lambda Literary Award.

Elena Georgiou

  Elena Georgiou's recent work appears in The Cream City Review, Gargoyle, Bloom, Spoon River Review and elsewhere.