Melissa Crowe / Cirque du Crève-Cœur : Prose Poems
Melissa Crowe lives in Maine with her husband, Mark, and their daughter, Annabelle. She currently teaches literature and creative writing and directs the Honors Program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Beginning in the summer of 2008, she plans to write and make visual art full time. Her poems have appeared in Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Lifeboat, Crab Orchard Review, The Atlanta Review, and The Seneca Review.
The way to begin is
to imagine naked readers, all of them knock-kneed, slack-cheeked, all of their bellies red-marked by the elastic band of clearly-unfashionable underpants. There's nothing dirty about these readers, no garter belts, nothing shaved or slippery—they're almost genderless with their slouching and their leg hair. Like grandparents. We're talking zero augmentation, every falsy in a pile somewhere unseen. Here's what I mean: I need you to be the boy in fourth grade who campaigned for Mondale. I need you to have big teeth, mildew between the tiles in your shower sometimes. Can you lick your plate? For me, and I'm really asking, can you admit you hate the taste of wine?
If so, if you can agree to my terms, if all of us—me and, readers, you (figuratively naked, lumpy, buck-toothed geeks) can stand at the alter and say we will, we are in some small way in bed, I will let you keep your glad rags on. When we are together in the world—on a train, on line at the bank, at table with the other china cups—I will let you wear your water bra, your fancy socks. You can put your hand over your mouth when you laugh. You can talk about Foucault. The thing is, now I'll know. When we are here, the day rinsed clean and resting in the silent sink, I'll be the lover who waits between the shabby sheets, the one in front of whom you disrobe with the lights on. And I'll be naked, too. I do.