Mudlark Poster No. 21 (2000)

Kate Lutzner

Three Poems

thinning  |  my mother and the bedsore  |  what klein believed

Kate Lutzner received the Robert Frost Poetry Prize while a senior at Kenyon College. Her poetry has appeared in THE ANTIOCH REVIEW and THE SQUAW REVIEW. She received her J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been working at the Discovery Channel for the past five years. She lives in Washington, D.C.



the dim hour in me
is making its way, clocks set
in their perpetual swing
like the metronome's hands
when it is out of reach.

i set mine on the kitchen table.
maybe this is how the anorexic feels.
the deliberateness of eating
slows the body down.

i fight my way
out of timed circumstance,
leave the safety of my even house
for stairs and the unpredictability
of weather. a little girl

with trouble hearing
listens intently to her mother
while another with perfect pitch
ignores hers. the unlikely
appearance of fairness aches
in the left chamber of my heart.

i wonder, maybe sex
is more the kind of thing i time
than eating. anorexics aren't capable
of much. not that i am against them.
it's just their bodies, concave
to my convex, so beautiful
and hideous at the same time.

and isn't time everything,
the set of sun bringing with it
the appropriateness of sleep
so that no one labels me depressive
and of course what i know
cannot seep into anyone else
if i protect it with enough sense.

the walls in me are coming down
says my mother on the telephone.
but i am perpetually her daughter,
slave to this blood
thick in both our bodies.

maybe i can put a paint thinner
through my veins, mainline it
like a drug and get some sort of high
escaping my inheritance.

my mother and the bedsore

caused by depression, it grew and grew until it had taken over her whole right side. i used to rub her open places, my color wheel formed in those hour-long intervals when i would intermittently clean and read, the lull of speech making its play for me as i preferred to have it out with words than skin. she had a husband who slept with her but didn't think much about it. when i'd gotten her cleaned up for him so he could find the right cavity, that's when i'd leave the room. a few times i wanted to stay and watch, see how it was he got himself situated. not out of curiosity regarding the particulars so much as just how he fit himself in. once, i confess, i watched through a hole in the door. my sister, who didn't know how to read or clean, stayed in her room, mostly. lots of times when i'd return from my chores she'd be in bed sleeping. i used to knock on her door hoping to talk a little as i was filled with so many images i longed to replenish the glossary of my head. but my sister would not give in to discourse. she liked to remain "free of the troubled form our mother makes," her horizontal memoir taking place even as she endured in the upstairs room. so i'd choose some position of my own to fall asleep in, usually a shape i'd learned in school. the night i mastered the triangle, my mother's husband came to see. little did he know i was familiar with his routine. i put my legs as tight together as i could but there was no warding off his many arms. women, i suppose, are preordained to suffer the sins of the mother. and so her husband had his way with me, small child on his lap or knees so many nights i lost track of where the sun resided in the sky, the constellation of my room and house a dizzying spectacle no astronomer would see.

what klein believed

"make your family out of dolls," says the doctor
to the girl so she sets about cutting and the doctor says
"perhaps it would be wise to draw an outline first."
the girl, who has already decided the family is to be
very close together, puts down her scissors.

she spends a few days penciling everything in,
hair and eyes, pointy little teeth. she runs out of room
when she is half way through her sister, who turns out
to have only one arm. it is a very useful arm.
it will allow her to hit and scold.

the girl's brother has one ear.
the other she accidentally tore off when she was
attending to detail. her mother and father are perfect.
her aunt mary, whom she couldn't decide whether or not
to include, is perfect. when it comes time to draw herself,

the girl finds she has run out of ink. "very interesting,"
says the doctor. the girl goes to the stove where
there is a fire going and gets rid of the doctor doll.
burning and cutting are things she has learned to do well.
after she has disposed of the doctor doll,

the girl sets about deciding what to do
with the others. she puts her sister in her mouth.
the doctor, who sees her do this, scribbles something down.
the girl walks to his side of the room to try and see.
he moves his lips to the words "roasting" and "eating."

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