The Pampering of Leora

By Thylias Moss b. 1954 Thylias Moss
Therefore, no more recounting of dreams, a routine thing
that bores with expectations of invention, unfiltered
non sequiturs, unusual embraces

only from the practiced

young woman who everyday remembers
being a bride, she is changing behind that white curtain

Leora

fifteen again experiencing
prematurely the pure suckling of a baby

fifteen with a virgin desire for pure suckling

something to do with jasmine
with jasmine tea
existing only without accident

It blooms while Leora sleeps
when she sleeps at night and it is also dark
for the jasmine

four hours

of tea sucking on blossoms, Cestrum nocturnum like
colostrums: the earliest secretions, and then only milk

from mother
—there it is

seven times over
jasmine bath after jasmine bath

till the tea can get no better

highest grade as stasis
all As

gets so boring, ka-put
to the test of innovation

all the right answers

Leora

sees herself mermaid, eel, tiger
fish from waist down

form-fitting skirt of winks

under that bonefish or ladyfish profile: tail fins
already split, caught in transition from legs to fin

hybrid mutant bastard mestizo mulatto masala mule mix mutt
hm/bm/mmmmm

watered down (jasmine bath tea)
spiked (jasmine bath tea)

stands taller on tips of split tail fin
ps: pastiche, salmagundi when all dressed up

Leg and fin share custody
so young men sacrifice only below the belt
to please her

many wounded soldiers
her company

From now on storming the beaches
rocks already aftermath, the breaking of dozens of sphinxes

the taming of sandstone lions and griffins, gargoyles
Leora takes to breast anything capable of sucking

and being filled, no ban on leeches and vipers
that stick out like misplaced overdeveloped hairs

and while in position, her free hand
shaves the heads of Medusa’s children screaming
for more nursing

with her eyes closed, her free handy blade, sharpened
life line

The liquids of history therefore tend to ferment; the beverages for walks down
memory lane therefore become pungent cheeses and wines, the odes
to bitterness and sweetness happen. This is also desirable. Taste depends
on how the glass tilts, how tongue curls.
What’s difficult
is maintaining gaps as gaps. A sustainable nothingness.
But something enters. Sustainable nothingness
looks like a niche.
Ghosts and spirits of what’s been lost. A young woman looks over her shoulder.

Close watching of what’s fading does not mean the change from substance to spirit
would be observed. On the tippy-tips of split tail fin looking over her shoulder
a long line for the nurse, exceptional business, nonstop nursing
and the milk won’t stop, years are at the end of the line.

Pull the plug on a nearby respirator (how on earth?)
        (don’t assume location, location, location)
the substance travels the line
joins the community of electricity, colonies of gigantic storms
on the sun

and appearances in auroras
that the mermaid sits under as under any canopy

nonstop

The spell of the tide tailored to make the one falling under its influence fall more
willingly. It feels nothing like falling at all: Leora describes rehabilitation

Sand sparkles remembering having been alive
only once
Leora’s eyes

sparkle upon contact with crabs and their incredible redness
that ought to teach her something about fire she does not know

with top-heavy ways
of knowing

      (the brain should travel the stations of the body, and one day
       the eyes and navel, when the eyes accompany the brain,
       line up in a row)

                               —then a real reason for revision
Dream on

Accordingly, pureness of the situation milks its own purity
Fantastic and looks disgusting

        (no matter where the eyes are—candidate
         for truth)

but purity is still pure following
such a milking

The mermaid’s pregnancy has to be called immaculate after repeated searches for the
limits. Lost without those. Pure. Last resort and best explanation for birth of a human
baby from a mermaid without a human pelvis or womb. The best xrays
cannot find them. Machines arrive on the beach and leave defective.

Leora

continues nursing
her baby first in line

The milk is pure. It does not need to be pasteurized. Makes                               (empty)
no one ill. Nothing in it allows allergies. The chemistry                                       (empty)
of the milk is pure.                                                                                         (empty)
The molecules of the tabernacle of purity.

              (as if they are empty)                                                                  (nothing is right
                                                                                                                               here)

Law

Flattened out they are like flattened tetrahedrons,
probably are smashed pendulums

now

Leora
blessed

with impossibility of the usual kind of rape

her own brand
jasmine bath after jasmine bath

without legs
she does as much sitting
as anyone who ever sat on a throne


wheelchairs
keep evolving


Thylias Moss, "The Pampering of Leora" from New Ohio Review. Copyright © 2007 by Thylias Moss.  Reprinted by permission of Thylias Moss.

Source: New Ohio Review (New Ohio Review, 2007)

 Thylias  Moss

Biography

Thylias Moss’s poetry collections include Tokyo Butter (2006), Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (1999), Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems (1993), Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky (1991), At Redbones (1990), Pyramid of Bone (1989), and Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman (1983). Known for expansive poems full of details ranging from art, history, and laundry detergents to ants and Disney characters, she has . . .

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