Eloise Klein Healy

from Artemis in Echo Park

Wild Mothers
This Art, Your Life

Firebrank Books, 1991

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Wild Mothers

Wild kitty sneaks up my stairs
with two wisps of tiger behind her.
Wild mothers always find me.
Red Tail who lived in my driveway
and that chew-eared thing
who grew old in my carport.
Three bowls of dry food
every day and their tribes
in proscribed circles
waiting for me.
One-legged scrub jay, waiting, too.
Lost ocelot hiding in the garage,
escaped cockatoo raucous in the eucalyptus.
Sparrow nesting over my doorway.
Mockingbird in the wisteria.
They find me where the clearing meets
the trees and night and light cross.
I have needed that they weren't mine,
that they would only come that close.

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This Art, Your Life

The MRI scan reads a tumor in your brain
about the size of an eraser on a pencil,
but what space is it sharing, what room
does it take up, what does it push
aside as it reaches for your optic nerve,
threatening first your color sense, then vision?

I remember you walking to my cabin, a vision
appearing out of nowhere, blowing my brain-
bound sense of rules, operating on nerve
instead, kissing me first, then taking pencil
and paper to sketch the sunlit hills, push
against nightfall and my little room's

lack of light. In bed, there was barely room
to turn over, a small single, but vision
from a larger world was about to push
me past all limits, past what my brain
could handle, our bodies flying, pencil
line strands of hair electric as a nerve

network alight and glowing, each nerve
firing, drawing forth the spirit of the room,
transformed now by our loving. No pencil
sketch, no charcoal smudge, but fiery vision
of what women find and give beyond the brain-
washed fractured ways we've had to push

through to create selves in ourselves, to push
into our books, our paintings—this nerve
of being that shoots straight into the brain,
changing every pathway like arranging room
after room in your house to suit your vision
of space, of light, of how right it was in pencil

drawings. But know each time any pencil
fits into your grip, I wonder as you push
the sketch to fit the scheme of your vision,
are you safe enough? How can I calm you, nervous
as I am, take you into the room
of my heart and keep you from harm? It's brain-

less hoping for such power. Take pencil. Brain
storm again. Life is what we push for. Make room
for daily dogged vision. Then, live on nerve.

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I am thinking about romance and its purpose.
Children and why I didn't have any.
I would have left the cave and them with it
or I would have tied them to me forever
with my own sad dreams and finicky order.

I've liked young animals better.
I could put their heads in my mouth.
I could lick and clean them like a mother,
but I could not raise a child.
The first thing a child should see
is the pink sunrise of a nipple, not the green wind
of a branch whipping in passing.

I chose to keep animals around me instead
because we are the same. We have habits
and make strange circles before we sleep.
We don't like to be watched while we eat.

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all poems

 www.eloisekleinhealy.com  .  eloisekleinhealy@mac.com