Our Intimates and Our Fools: Poetry by Sara Henning, Art by Dwora Fried
Mixed Media Box, 8 x 12 x 3.5: Self portrait by Dwora Fried
APOSTASY CONCERNING LINGERIE AND GARDEN EFFIGIES
by Sara Henning
When you asked to keep my underwear—sapphire-tinted nylon with matte patina—
I watched you bury your face in the gusset of fabric that, if I were wearing them, would nest between my legs like some hardly consolable animal.
For all I know, they’re floating now, untended, fruiting in the dark like an orchid.
At this place in the story, maybe you’re tilling your memory of my body as though
it were loam.
What I mean is, maybe you’re sheering my body of rock, heavy clay, then miring the boundaries with shrubs of oleander.
In one of your closets, I might find them, one bud amidst a garden of effigies
I no longer know or understand.
Before I met you, my underwear was the topic of a different exodus.
Lily taffeta, seamless tanga, I’d whisper.
We were in school together. I was nineteen. He was in Texas for the summer.
Sheer hip hugger with ruching, black and pale plum, I’d whisper. Tell me what’s underneath it, he’d almost sing.
I was lonely. We were lonely together.
V-string panty, rose blush all-over lace. Whispers. Stray syllables. An eventual cry,
sweet and long in the dark.
Then him, overdosing on the back porch of his grandmother’s apartment in late July, stomach full of Vicodin blooming and blooming.
Don’t tell me what it is to turn a bulb over and over until it is deep-kissed by sun. Don’t tell me what it is to water it and watch for trembling.
I never told you that inside every woman’s body is a garden she tends when you think she’s sleeping.
Every time she loses a lover, she uses flat rakes to sliver out sod. What she can’t bait or snare, she lines with wet newspaper to smother. When she chooses another, she builds a trellis for what churns under straw. She sentries the fruit that will save her or end her.
So don’t tell me what it’s like to take a rake, comb the dusky earth over and over,
and wait for roots to finally shake the earth. When you left, I built an arbor for blackbirds, built cages to cordon them when, at harvest, they fortressed and couped with their bodies.
The creatures were singing when I found them bastioned, free of caging, everything tended now butchered and cropped.
I sang back to them, set your rapture to another valley. I sang back to them, you are wanted, but not here.
And suddenly, each swooned as though shattered by laudanum. When I parted the feathers on each body, put my ear to the belly, it was not the bird, dead of longing, but the fruit’s untamable requiem, that sundered my ear.
Note: “At this place in the story” references “At the place in the story,” from Li-Young Lee’s “Degrees of Blue” (Book of My Nights).
Sara Henning is the author of To Speak of Dahlias (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and A Sweeter Water (Lavender Ink, 2013). She holds an MFA from George Mason University and is currently pursuing a PhD from the University of South Dakota, where she teaches and serves as Managing Editor for the South Dakota Review. She has been the recipient of residencies at both the Vermont Studio Center and the Performing Arts Forum in St. Erme, France. Her poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Crab Orchard Review, Verse, So To Speak, American Letters & Commentary, and Willow Springs, among others, and she has poems anthologized in Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013).
Dwora Fried is a collage and assemblage artist. She was born in Vienna, Austria and lived there until moving to Israel to go to college. There she received her BA from Tel Aviv University and studied at the Avni School of Fine Arts. In 1978, she moved to Los Angeles, CA and became an American citizen. Her international experience is very evident in the way she combines different elements and locations in her art. Fried has exhibited primarily in California. She just returned from two Solo shows in Venice, Italy and in Vienna, Austria. Five of her Boxes are in the permanent collection of the MUSA Museum in Vienna. You can currently see her work at the SPRC Gallery in Venice, California, through May 18. dworafried.com
Our Intimates and Our Fools is a series by Les Femmes Folles throughout April 2014, celebrating National Poetry Month. Les Femmes Folles will post a poem and/or artwork every day on the theme inspired by the intimates we hold dear—be they brassieres, boy shorts, merry widow stays (and more, or less)—and those who foolishly (and adorably) love them. The theme sprung from Les Femmes Folles Books’ 2014 Intimates and Fools (poetry by Laura Madeline Wiseman, art by Sally Deskins). Coupling body art and poetry, ‘Intimates and Fools‘ intimates the complicating pairing of the female form and cultural notions of beauty while playfully seeking to bare and bear such burdens of their weight. Laura Madeline Wiseman’s poetry explores notions of the bra and its place near the hearts of women, while contemplating literary and pop cultural allusions and illusions of such intimate apparel. Sally Deskins’ body art and illustrations make vivid and bright the female form while calling into question the cultural narratives on such various shapes we hold dear, be they natural, consumer, or whimsy. Available on amazon.
(Win a FREE LFF Book!: Intimates & Fools, Les Femmes Folles Books’ Photo contest 2014!Details on the submissions page: http://femmesfollesnebraska.tumblr.com/callforart-writing)
April 1: Troy Muller (art); mariana mcdonald (poetry)
April 2: Mary MacGowan (art); Jennifer MacBain Stephens (poetry)
April 3: Lauren Rinaldi (art); Amy Schriebman Walter (poetry)
April 4: Rhiannon Conley-Pierson (art); Patricia Wellingham-Johns (poetry)
April 5: Shannon E. Thomas (art) John Savoie (poetry)
April 7: Cindy Hinant (art); Phyllis Wax (poetry)
April 8: Wendy Jane Bantam (art); Laura Madeline Wiseman (poetry)
April 9: Amy Cerra (art); Christina Finlayson Taylor (poetry)
April 10: Dirty Haiku Project & Vanessa Raney
April 11: Kelly Blevins (art); Marjorie Tesser (poetry)
April 12: Patricia Izzo (art); Kate Falvey (poetry)
Les Femmes Folles is a completely volunteer run organization founded in 2011 with the mission to support and promote women in all forms, styles and levels of art with the online journal, anthologies, books, exhibitions and events; originally inspired by artist Wanda Ewing and her curated exhibit by the name Les Femmes Folles (Wild Women). LFF was created and is curated by Sally Deskins. LFF Books is a micro-feminist press that publishes 1-2 books per year by the creators of Les Femmes Folles including Intimates & Fools (Laura Madeline Wiseman, 2014). Other titles include Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2011, 2012 and 2013, available on blurb.com,(get 15% your blurb purchase using code 2014BOOKS expires 4/30/14) including art, poetry and interview excerpts from women artists. A portion of the proceeds from LFF books and products benefit the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Wanda Ewing Scholarship Fund.