Danger of Falling

By Patricia Goedicke 1931–2006 Patricia Goedicke
The way calcium grows

all by itself into bone, microscopic
fraction attaches itself to fraction

or clouds crystallize, or blizzards congeal into hard
ice on aluminum wings,

even the astronauts’ bodysuits can’t cover up
the sheer strangeness of it, the extraordinary being-here

or anywhere, the skin of the plane could easily peel back
like an ear of corn and then what’s to be seen but who, me?

the live, disintegrating,
terrified Barbie Doll asks, stuffed into her jeans

like a stick of butter, her neat, pointed feet dangerously
stuck into sky...

but still, teetering down the aisle
if anyone bumps her she glares, This Is My Territory,

this little packet of a hundred and twenty-two
pounds more or less says Move it, Babe,

one minute the cold kitchen, next minute Miami Beach,
digging into the sand beside the violent-

ly green sea, droplets of Almighty coconut oil
under the crisp tang of salt drizzle and lick

all over its bare, lusciously bronzed congregation
of too too solid—

No! Never in this world, the greedy molecules hiss

as the plane turns inland, the woman returns to her seat
past all the other anonymous collections of cells,

some snoring, some fussing with their kids,
one bent over a laptop, another staring

straight at her for a second, with X-ray
exhausted eyes peering, then swiveling away

as if they’d known each other before, fellow crew members
from another planet,

though the woman thinks of herself only on Main Street—my
my what an arrangement of chromosomes collected

who knows why—up here among streaked, boiling clouds
with the plane speeding through them, how

unexpected it is, how far the body travels
from its babyhood, locked in its charged circuits

she thinks about edges, the leathery sunburned skin
flaking off, in filmy shreds,

sound barriers breaking away from her but here she still is
for this one second fixed, eyes sticking out of the top of her face

like the glint of a buried pin or the beak
of a mother robin in the nest

she made for herself:

with earth losing its outer walls
twig by twig, what is this naked fork quivering

in the middle of Whose consciousness

she keeps wondering, whizzing across the face
of an electric cloud chamber,

here all I am
is falling, in the tight ship of the diminished,

in hot chips of pure
ignorant energy fizzing around some magnet,

some lucky iron only
imagination can count on,

trembling, gritting her teeth on the thread
of an end she can’t know,

Please, Someone, materialize me
in arms I can love always

she whispers to herself,
Beam Me Up...

“Danger of Falling” from Invisible Horses by Patricia Goedecke published by Milkweed Editions, 1996. Used by permission of Milkweed Editions. www.milkweed.org

Source: Invisible Horses (Milkweed Editions, 1996)

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Poet Patricia Goedicke 1931–2006

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Biography

Patricia Goedicke's poetry has been described in the Times Literary Supplement by David Kirby as "intensely emotional, intensely physical." "More than any contemporary woman poet, perhaps, she exhibits a Whitmanesque exuberance," claims Small Press Review contributor Hans Ostrom. According to Peter Schjeldahl in the New York Times Book Review, Goedicke "bears down hard on the language, frequently producing exact ambiguities of . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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