Amanda Who is Seen and Not Heard (and other poems)


“Love is dead,” says the radio talk show host.
Amanda, who is ten, considers this,
but she is learning to tie knots, and sticks
the tip of her tongue deftly to the left
as she ropes a chair to the sideboard’s left leg.
Then she reads about horses while the table
flies with the stairs on the blackened
sky in the window. The staircase spirals
its accordion of light and shadow behind.
She waits for dinner in the magic, chairs
plush with light, candles flecking
the table’s flat skirts like stars. The scene floats
through and behind her on the window.

Amanda abandons her face to the glass,
pupils huge in the dark. The ghosts of guests,
dinners and brunches inhabit
the room: crystal clinks; the heater ticks.
Amanda should not speak unless
spoken to first. She already has dressed to be
seen, her hair, a sheen in the light. But now
she reads more about horses, riding a green
world, her bangs fallen over her eyes.
And she touches the blackness of glass, leaving
a bouquet of clues, fingerprints, whorled roses.
(But what is her crime?) Reflection blurs
the edges of Amanda. She almost

seeps into the night, the book of her face open
in the glass, the room shining through her.
But already, Amanda would prefer
to be opaque. That’s why she frowns, her brow
furrowed with the effort of reading
and being unread. Amanda imagines
herself grown, wearing dresses of juniper-
green, shirts of clover-flower-white, pledged
to this enduring green, its clouds bulging
with rain, her troth never spoken. She will lie
on lawns, face-up, watching clouds patrol
the borders of sight. Lovers will peer at
their faces in her eyes. They will imagine
her sheer. But Amanda is the thief of sight.



Amanda thought if the boat
were thought rather than built,
sharp-prowed and white-keeled,
decisively flagged, no one

would have duties: to paint,
polish, de-barnacle, fuel, be doers,
not seers of the waves’
imperial blues.

The waves are lit from behind, sheer
as they rise to curl, foam
at the lip, and topple,
traveling in rows

or curving in yin-yang shapes
to cup points, coves,
peninsulas. Amanda loves
the night sea too, the rare obsidian

smoothness of summer nights,
dotted by night-lights, refractions
and infractions,
the four-pointed white stars

like painting on Portuguese
pottery. But the stars on the sea
ignore the laws of sight, appearing
and disappearing at will.

Amanda would order the sea
to mind rules, follow
the prescriptions of
the moon, keep creasing,

folding and undoing its folds––
but it already does. Now it’s
dark as the spinach-green
foliage of redwood,

now yellow-green like miner’s lettuce,
a salad of solace,
variants on green––black green,

peridot, serpentine, teal.
The sea precipitates
greens. As dictated
by weather, star-light,

gravity, it also
deposits spoils:
glass-bits, fish-scales,
the unlit olive-drab bulbs

of kelp, sea-shells, driftwood,
polished splinters off
the beams of dreaming
ship-hulks in the deep.

Amanda cannot forestall
or order the produce
of the sea: its orange-red
magma keeps emerging

from the forge
through cracks in the sea floor’s
blue-black basalt near the liminal
trenches where special

corals, weeds and worms (both see-through
and fluorescent) thrive
in furnace-hot water. In the sea,
matter is mothered.

Next thing you know,
it must be fettered or freed,
urged or cajoled, cosseted,
dry-docked, fueled.

IMG_1737 - Version 2


The sea mills tree-grist and kelp bulb,
but she evades the spell of shape.

The variegated salt gown banded
violet and teal, sheer as it falls from
shoulders to waist,
is the thief of shape anyway, diaphanous
with boundaries spurned or

But your looking cups the foot,
arched with distances and provisos,
lathes the waist with blues and so
narrows her

she is confined, bloodless, an hour-
glass, the sand grains
falling one by one
the glare, the misprision.

Then she ruptures the gloss of
surfaces, risen as
from her mother’s
ripe head into the luck of skin,

the glove of shape,
to discover wave curls’
contusion of glass and loss on
the skin she is and is in,

the frisson of cold,
the liquefaction of feeling
inside and outside
at once. Ions of light

dot her and the startled
cove: she is flecked
with feeling
with water and the pyrite
of eye-sparks.

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