sweet reader, flanneled and tulled

By Olena Kalytiak Davis b. 1963
Reader unmov’d and Reader unshaken, Reader unseduc’d   
and unterrified, through the long-loud and the sweet-still   
I creep toward you. Toward you, I thistle and I climb.

I crawl, Reader, servile and cervine, through this blank   
season, counting—I sleep and I sleep. I sleep,
Reader, toward you, loud as a cloud and deaf, Reader, deaf

as a leaf. Reader: Why don’t you turn
pale? and, Why don’t you tremble? Jaded, staid   
Reader, You—who can read this and not even

flinch. Bare-faced, flint-hearted, recoilless   
Reader, dare you—Rare Reader, listen   
and be convinced: Soon, Reader,

soon you will leave me, for an italian mistress:   
for her dark hair, and her moon-lit   
teeth. For her leopardi and her cavalcanti,

for her lips and clavicles; for what you want   
to eat, eat, eat. Art-lover, rector, docent!   
Do I smile? I, too, once had a brash artless

feeder: his eye set firm on my slackening
sky. He was true! He was thief! In the celestial sense   
he provided some, some, some

(much-needed) relief. Reader much-slept with, and Reader I will die
without touching, You, Reader, You: mr. small-
weed, mr. broad-cloth, mr. long-dark-day. And the italian mis-

fortune you will heave me for, for
her dark hair and her moonlit-teeth. You will love her well in-
to three-or-four cities, and then, you will slowly

sink. Reader, I will never forgive you, but not, poor   
cock-sure Reader, not, for what you think. O, Reader   
Sweet! and Reader Strange! Reader Deaf and Reader

Dear, I understand youyourself may be hard-
pressed to bare this small and un-necessary burden   
having only just recently gotten over the clean clean heart-

break of spring. And I, Reader, I am but the daughter   
of a tinker. I am not above the use of bucktail spinners,   
white grubs, minnow tails. Reader, worms

and sinkers. Thisandthese curtail me   
to be brief: Reader, our sex gone
to wildweather. YesReaderYes—that feels much-much

better. (And my new Reader will come to me empty-
handed, with a countenance that roses, lavenders, and cakes.   
And my new Reader will be only mildly disappointed.

My new Reader can wait, can wait, can wait.) Light-
minded, snow-blind, nervous, Reader, Reader, troubled, Reader,
what’d ye lack? Importunate, unfortunate, Reader:

You are cold. You are sick. You are silly.
Forgive me, kind Reader, forgive me, I had not intended to step this quickly this far
back. Reader, we had a quiet wedding: he&I, theparson

&theclerk. Would I could, stead-fast, gracilefacile Reader! Last,   
good Reader, tarry with me, jessa-mine Reader. Dar-
(jee)ling, bide! Bide, Reader, tired, and stay, stay, stray Reader,

true. R.: I had been secretly hoping this would turn into a love
poem. Disconsolate. Illiterate. Reader,   
I have cleared this space for you, for you, for you.

“sweet reader, flanneled and tulled”, by Olena Kalytiak Davis, from shattered sonnets love cards and other off and back handed importunities, Copyright © 2003, Page 3. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA.

Source: shattered sonnets love cards and other off and back handed importunities (Bloomsbury USA, 2003)

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Poet Olena Kalytiak Davis b. 1963

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Love, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes, Unrequited Love

Holidays Valentine's Day

Biography

A first-generation Ukrainian American, Olena Kalytiak Davis grew up in Detroit and was educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College. Davis’s poetry collections include And Her Soul Out of Nothing (1997), selected by Rita Dove for the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, and shattered sonnets, love cards, and other off and back handed importunities (2003). Davis’s free-verse, lyrical . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Love, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes, Unrequited Love

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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