Poems

ALLISON FUNK Cells

after those of Louise Bourgeois

Although cells almost rhymes
with selves, I often feel I have
++++++++++++nothing
in common with the body
I’m in.

~

I note how they divide, subdivide
as if under a lens—this thought,
++++++++++++that emotion—
before art from chaos
can form.

~

August 1945. Hiroshima,
my parents’ wedding, Nagasaki,
++++++++++++war’s end.
In time, I would see my conception
as another link in that chain.

~

Combustible love. Till death
do us part. Such an odd circle
++++++++++++of bell ringers
we are, tolling one for the lost,
another for lives to come,

~

and so on to extinction.
Against that end,
++++++++++++I fill
pages with consolations
nights when the sirens wail.

~

When I thought my mother was dying,
I saw she was me in a hospital gown,
++++++++++++soft middle,
thin wrists, and I knew I’d be lost
if I lost her.

~

Secret, sliding, glass,
pocket, storm.
++++++++++++Revolving,
barred, louvered, French—
I like to think of doors

~

as ports of call
where travelers enter
++++++++++++the unknown,
for the time being
putting their cabins behind them.

~

The day the undertaker’s men
lifted him onto a stretcher
++++++++++++to ferry
my father away, I dreamt
he escaped through a hidden door.

~

Lift up your gates,
and you shall be lifted up
++++++++++++a plainsong
that heightens the longing
within my echoing chambers.

~

In an isolation cell
one can begin to hear voices.
++++++++++++I wish
this was something I did not understand.
This unfastening.

~

It’s possible to break out
of a jailhouse or household,
++++++++++++although
most people tunnel away
inch by slow inch.

~

When I’m long gone,
with a view as wide
++++++++++++as Wyoming,
I might find myself
looking back

~

through a door left ajar,
half in love with the lingering
++++++++++++scent
of rooms as familiar
as the breath of ephemera,

~

hints of who’d lived there
in corners, on walls,
++++++++++++everywhere
except in the standing mirror,
which is blank.

 

 

Allison Funk is the author of five books of poems, including her most recent, Wonder Rooms (Free Verse Editions of Parlor Press, 2015). The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, she is Professor Emerita at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.