Poetry by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

Funeral

The first time I went under
anesthesia, I prattled on about
my uncle’s new car stereo.
Instead of being lodged in
the dashboard, it was mounted
on something that snaked up
from the floor as though a piece
of plumbing equipment, and
the console had lights that pumped
out information about volume
and reception. I went on so long
the plastic surgeon told me
I had to stop talking, so he could
finish my mouth, and the project
of tissue re-distribution.  

Last Saturday we said goodbye
to another reinvention, in a light
that convened through all the
points of unconsciousness: narcotic
or unavoidable surrender, dreams
from the kitchen sink realism or
the dry-mouth blankness of a
medical condition. In that light we
looked at photographs, shadows
caught and pixels hardened, of
our friend who cashed out her
life of kitsch and glamour for
housewifery and children before
the disease got her, in sponge
and function.

I never understood the salt line
in the river where I once lived until
that afternoon; I never understood
how fresh and salt water could collude
without mixing; or how a seal got
stuck there one spring, in tides and
directions, unable to see her way
through the different buoyancies,
charged and weighted according to
what is there and what isn’t, just as
my friend was engaged in a kind of
subtraction the years after she changed,
in code and color and even grit, always
there, beneath the porcelain.

 

In Situ, in Breast Tissue

Dissect what has always been open
to the world to take
or display, to criticize its shape
and ogle;
and inside it might appear as a headdress
show girls may have worn in Paris
but now, strictly Vegas,
or a fantasy of Monte Carlo. 
Reveal its interior scaffolding, like fans  
used to cool Hollywood-style pharaohs;
or the misnamed heart of a sunflower,
dismantled by famished Turkish boys
posing for a tourist’s photo.
Here, let me make it taut with a hoop
around the circumference and add
a bean stitch, like the pin my mother used
to secure napkins onto her blouse
as she ate until her elegant friend
warned she was becoming a character. 
Deep into the embroidery, into the patterns, 
once the spot moves from feather to thought,
there is no stopping it,
from lungs to liver
until it has had enough
of its dreaming in disguise
and returns
to the state of nature.

 

Jane Rosenberg LaForge's next full-length collection of poems will be "Daphne and Her Discontents" from Ravenna Press in late 2016 or 2017. She is the author of "An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy/A Fantastical Memoir" (Jaded Ibis Press 2014), and four volumes of poetry. Her 2012 chapbook, "The Navigation of Loss,'' was one of three chapbooks chosen for publication by Red Ochre Lit in its annual contest. More information is available at jane-rosenberg-laforge.com.