Susan Schultz

Contradictory Passions

Constitutional: both walking
and governing, the way steps
appear to confirm themselves,
regulated and redeemable.
There is a spirit world, the
doctor says, his house invaded
by the family's ghost, TV lit,
the door knocking on itself. 
Spirits know only the propriety
of act, a tergiversation--
I can't remember now
what the word means, but
its sound assures me it
belongs here, like people
with awkward faces snuggling
inside the imaginary frame
of a camera's eye, visual
prosody, the strict con-
structionist of nouns,
lax identifications of verb
with verb, like "to walk,"
sidewalks addenda of our
attention. Tensile boughs
bend like phone wires,
withdrawn voices clear only
in palimpsest: did you hear
her aunt has been ill, her
friend an anti-feminist
(once president of the
engineering society, no
less): I told my therapist
all this and more and what
did he do, he propositioned
me, the old line about love
conquering--what? Conquest
is a legitimate desire, if
undesirable among
professionals, even at 
their confessionals. Fighter
planes swoop downward
not with extended but intended
wings, gray blots on blue
unbecoming to instruments
of war; are we always
at war because we know it
exists? Or does knowing it
prevent us from being
at war? Is potential fact?
And are facts victorious,
spoils like turnips
and women to soldiers
whose cruelty surpasses
unreason, leaving blankets
of snow to bury kindred, 
cold. Disorder breeds it-
self unless innoculated
against by looping syntax
like planes and/or birds
binding sea-water to cloud-
less plain, remnants
of yesterday's rain. Rain is
an interesting word, the poet
says, having affinities with
sovereigns--not gold ones,
but those with crowns and it's
raining in here said the queen,
sensing an opening between 
the moderator's sighs, a gap
like industry between us. He
called this morning, but I 
said I was busy, and I was, 
wondering where to go 
with this offer of friendship, 
islands of my inattention, 
like unseen sediment beneath
the easel's weight. I love
you, said one to the other
one, gauging possibilities:
will this word be wedded to 
my verb, can sex be attached 
like Xmas lights, inorganic 
in its function as bridge
and terrorist in bed
with his bombs? Marie, Marie,
hold on tight; every time
I call her I want to say this--
stole them from Norton
cuz I hear great poets do
it, if little else. Ezra
would know what to cut,
the word in rafters, an owl's
whodunnit, the vehemence
of preachers without readers,
the utterly crucial sense
we have of each other,
trading Wittgenstein stories
like furs. Apparel judged
not by appearance but
intention, resemblence
not by inheritance but by
inadvertance. Darwin would
like this place, its superior
genes, its geckos crouched
on window screens, parodic
monsters, termites threat-
ening to ruin all of it,
even the word? That too,
I saw two of them and thought
to link them in my mind,
the aunts and uncles of my idea
whose time has come to close
an oyster's silence
through these gates of pearl.