April 25, 2011

Orsino and Joanna: left to their own adornments

by Dolly Lemke

Orsino’s first shirt

Had never seen such cuts before,

cut long and narrow, cut pant leg,

cut cuffs, sliced buttonholes.

Slid arm right through, grabbing rail,

writhing down that hoary cavern,

tucking bottom roughly.

The name of man or woman

can kill at first glance,

can die over one time

Base line accosted on railroad

by streetcar, in lamplight.

Shirts over-starched,

sliced straight down the back.

Joanna, the only deserving woman

If given the chance she could not speak

without material by her side

Seemed to sadden the heir a touch

Saddened more by paternal monsters

Joanna deserves the chance

A guide might be necessary or truly essential

Her body deserves a good man mostly up her petticoat

Yet can’t give goodness to a woman

Joanna’s inner monologue; hesitant & subservient

I’ll learn to crochet for this lemon tree.

I’ll learn the intricacies of the loom,

perhaps a slip knot or cross stitch.

I’ll learn the mapping of internal spaces for this nectar

I now know the lemon tastes like how memory works.

The crossing action looks comforting and small.

You need to get out of here.

Get the silken threads outside to dry, to burn, to chop.

Make out of kindling make to unravel cuff by cuff.

The possibility of patterns is remarkable.

This is nothing like gardening.

Nothing really grows from seed or bulb.

Orsino self-identifies; a lovely shade of violet

Tell me about the leather boots tight to bone and calf.

How polyester feels against your sweat after running away.

I think you need a smattering of rouge, my little pear,

a touch more definition.

I might push you down the stairs you are so beautiful,

delightful cavernous ruffles.

I said wear the gown I want to slap you around,

you are just so.

This tulle and lace, I must have some,

give me the mending kit and floral prints.

I will make you with buttons,

tinted to match your pressed powders

and scented stationary.

(Y)our hysteria is becoming

let’s go out on the town tonight

Joanna conspires as escape

That is an awfully real gun, she worries.

This madness yellows the pages quite quickly.

And they have unmatched storage capacities.

The inlet has been wounded severely.

She looks forward to the descent

in repose at safe distance.

Tonight she will kill her own dinner.

The collarbone’s weakness close to the broken neck.

Inside these ridges a party dress has never been enough.

She left her gloves at the door, on her way out.

Sweet lightness, what happened was not false.

Photos by Aris Bordo.

Bio: Dolly Lemke received a MFA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Best American Poetry 2010, Umbrella Factory, Super Arrow, horse less review, and Mad Hatters' Review. She is currently a paper-pusher in downtown Chicago, Assistant Editor for Switchback Books, and Associate Editor for Arsenic Lobster.

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