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Marty McConnell

( Bronx, New York )



from BFR, Spring Supplement 2002

_________________________




girl on the tracks


unflinching, she laughs, plucks a string
from the hem of her skirt

a fidgety delinquent nods at the bench-end, 
the trellis of his ribs apparent through cotton. 

iridescent silence. scuffling of track rats
carrying sweet-n-low packets toward invisible holes. 

she: too fond of the pre-train electricity
that statics through the third rail

the rumble before coming

remembers a puckered mouth, lies hot 
as glassblower’s breath

remembers him wheezing, ready

let me start over. 

if she could flinch she would. 
a boy trembles at the far end 
of a bench, familiar in his quivering

his breathing spasmodic arias, 
pardonable disturbance of the 4 a.m. silence
in her mind she names him Craig

paints him lethal, volatile, emptied of honor
through the holes in his arms
remembers him swallowing her, 

how the dark shivered with electricity, 
her muscles contracting in a jitterbug of ions
how she could lay for hours without one
imperfect thought

she could tell you some things about color. 

how the frequency of lavender makes turquoise run sour
if the music’s too loud. how plaid turns angry 
if wool’s involved and the clock disagrees. 

it’s not home she’s going for. home is hideous ribbons
and polite highwire dinners. home is sheets
that can and will be used against you in a court of law, 
ruffled pillows that muffle whispers and bedsprings

she could paint you a picture, 

semichild bending in a surreal shadow of herself
waiting

jointed at the middle, 
she will not break. 

the colors keep her there, memory of yellow
through fog of fatherwant / whispers and fingers
practicing scales on his back & major chord minor chord 
the sin of omission a lesser sin than a lie

lemonsoup light / morning / a flurry of sheets & she
near-woman
stands

again . she says / let her tell you

blue 
were she skin at all she’d bruise
but not, not her, 
raised to know what tongues are for
quiet quiet now 
now lipstick now pigtails
now quiet step down creaking stairs
now gather book book notebook pen
gather bag (rustle/hush) gather lunchmeat gather bread
fumble keys stop     gathercoatgathermittensgatherbookbag go
go & she breathes now   like a girl
a girl   counts sidewalk squares   skips sidewalk cracks
break your mother’s

going   going   / gone she is
curled inside the melonrind edge of her
not-skin she is not
so tearable now / torn she is
healing ragged places with crazy glue
and hallucinogens / splinting bone with fragments 
of the one true cross she will walk
on that fracture halfway to Harlem

now semichild waits on the F the D the V the B
anything downtown, anything to carry her
and the snakes in her veins away she has never felt
anything so soft as her own face right now 
finally she can see the trails all movement leaves

she hums behind pupils small villages
could swim in / I watch thinking
eyes like diamonds, clearly once coal

she sways at the track-edge, crouches
to run fingers over raised warning bumps, 
perches like a swimmer waiting to dive

let me start over

pink frosted lipstick, brittle sugar 
she is the distance between him and her between
she and I between palm and knee between poet
and story / we are static, 
a snapshot of escape and grace, the moment the lock gives
and day breaks jaded and dazed, 
bright pamphlet on the tracks announcing
Ask and ye shall receive.



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