LAUREN McKENZIE REED

 

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE KNOWN

 

i                                                           Magazine 1 Slide 20

 

Henry loves his automatic –

always Bernadette, left a little. 

 

I want you in the foreground.

 

The locals must laugh at us but

I love the way I look in slides

 

so small and abroad.

 

My hair’s a bit windblown but

I’m in my blue dress with tiny floral printing.

 

I feel most immense in a little moment;

 

there’s an exaltation of nuthatch behind the statue

and they’re soaring.  It is the summer.

 

(A group of frogs is called an army.

I think only larks exalt.)

 

I imagine their nests tucked away nearby

beyond a neat mud wall. Eggs laid,

white speckled with red.  All I remember now is

tui-tui-tui so repeated.

 

 

ii

 

The average human body weighs nine pounds

when cremated.  I wonder if that’s

the weight of everything without water.

 

I like the way old technology smells:

 

the slide machine on the bedroom dresser,

the slides carefully organized in magazines.

 

Norway 1, 2, 3 are waiting.

 

They weigh much more than nine;

I imagine there’s a million lives

tucked amongst the dust here.

 

 

iii

 

Living is hard: we lose half a liter of water

a day, just through breathing.

 

Sometimes everything is against you.

 

Sometimes I miss Oslo,

so many cranes tucked in with skyline.

 

Tell her it’s no; blue jays can’t see blue.

 

This is about the place where the skin stops,

the verge of inside visible.

 

People are incredible, one even said:

creating an embryo only to dismantle it

is something else entirely.

 

Humans are responsible; we are all at threat.

We’re merely a floccule now.

 

We have rarely been sentimental in the past;

maybe we don’t need birds.

 

Fjords are selfish in their deepness.

 

I know there is a problem.

I knew that without knowing it.

 

 

i                                                           Magazine  2 Slide 24

 

Aboard the ship Henry would joke

I’m a fish out of water.

 

I’d say our cruise ship isn’t much advanced.

 

He snapped a shot as if

I were the captain,

 

my grey dress giving me away.

 

I drop ore in the donation box

and think of the least shrew,

some mammal out there

light and untrappable.

 

We sat for a while at the Vikingskipshuset;

who wouldn’t be amazed?

 

 

ii

 

I know the names of these places.

 

I’ve read about them and want so badly

to narrate: this is the Maritime Museum.

This one houses 9th century vessels.

 

This must be some whispering gallery.

 

There’s only you and I here,

and we both already know.

 

 

iii

 

We know Viking ships were sturdy

since some are still here.

 

You should visit the Kon-Tiki.

 

It sailed 101 days over 43 hundred miles of Pacific

just to prove it could.

 

Knot means nautical mile means

we can’t always trust the distance.

 

Each artifact is a stolen memory.

 

Each bench a voyage too.

 

 

i                                                           Magazine 3 Slide 26

 

In Bergen we met a fisherman.

The waterside market was bustling,

I only recall flashes:

a canvas bike tire bag,

those haphazardly stacked crates,

his deep reverberating laughter

 

(he held up the biggest mackerel

and told me about catching them),

 

yellow pail, his slicker,

the scent of gutted fish so strong

it clung to me all afternoon.

 

Henry offered him money for his cap

but he claimed to have caught it

with a pole on the way in

eight years back.  Said it was good

or bad luck; either way we ought not tempt

the fate that brought it to him.

 

 

ii

 

I let out an ooooo

before I can catch myself.

 

It’s not like every image isn’t gorgeous –

it’s just that water, water, road and then

market is a shock.

 

I switched the Revere de Luxe to manual.

I stared at her a while.

 

 

iii

 

It’s sixty Fahrenheit today in Oslo.

Warm is relative.

 

No one seems to realize it is cold

when I am freezing.

 

I don’t wear a coat to fit in.

 

I still look like a tourist.

 

The market tricks me into feeling present:

I am a resident here; I am purchasing food to cook.

 

It takes two eggs to make cinnamon bread.

One to bake a mackerel.

 

Someone must be watching me, must notice.

 

(I take it back; I need birds.)

 

If I ignore the cranes long enough

they disappear into that line

where the surface of the earth and sky appear to meet.

 

That line is defined by a real or imaginary

one-dimensional view.

I am seeing it from three.

 

Lauren McKenzie Reed received her MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University, where she taught for six years. She also has a MA in TESOL and, in addition to teaching and publishing, Reed has studied and worked in several countries, including Mali, Germany, Ukraine, China, Hong Kong, and Australia. 

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