ONLY FOOLS AND DEAD MEN DON'T CHANGE THEIR MINDS
You want to know more about the city that birthed you.
And so, you carry the bolt cutters under your coat,
and struggle with the lock. You consider it,
the guts of your favorite building, abandoned
since 1991. Because this is the year of your birth,
it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t your fault.
Sometimes, you think about this, the events that occurred
on the day you were born. You feel validated by them,
as though the patent of a drinking straw or a digital clock
in some way justifies how you might think of yourself.
And suddenly you are reminded of your 14th birthday.
Your mother gave you make-up and you couldn’t understand
why she wanted your face to look different
from what it was, even though you had asked for it.
You, who have found bolt cutters, unthread
a broken chain from the door handles.
You stand in the center, under the great glass dome,
look up through the ceiling and see the Parisian Arcades
revised in this disaster of a city. How not to think
of depression, the stone slipping from your hand
and shattering the thin, worn glass, falling now,
around your head like snow. It’s winter again
and you find it difficult to keep your head safe,
keep your wits about you. As a child, you wanted
to be as gorgeous as a statue, frozen in the moment
of your greatest beauty, gorgoned. Sometimes, you’ve noticed
a statue can look alive. It can look right at you in a museum
or on a marble column in the middle of the road.
You’ve seen a dead body once, and you must admit,
it was like looking at a statue maybe. More alive than dead.
A statue can look right at you and force you to consider
whether or not you are the body that breathes. Here, beneath
the glass arches of the Dayton Arcade, you may as well
be made of stone. The frozen sky breaks through
the glass and floods the grand hall, a shower
of sparkling. Your body, not a statue of a girl
but flesh and blood. Hold your hands out
to the flood. You, who cast stones.
You who hurled the stone, and now what?
Was it for the want of blood beading
from the glittering shards of the Arcade?
You, a love affair with the ruined. You, who wanted
this kind of reveal: your skin and your city, a likeness.
Tara Westmor is an anthropologist poet, raised in Dayton, Ohio. She received her MFA in poetry from New Mexico State University. She has been published in Gravel Magazine, Driftwood Press, and The Sink Review. Tara is currently working on the curation of an anthology called Anthro/Poetics.