You want a place to yourself, so you post
notice and vanish, Mrs. The wave came down.
You see it and hunker for a hundred years.
You read books with foreign names, each
a planet to visit and colonize.
At night, you wrap yourself in classical music,
the best cassette marked in the fat adolescent
ciphers of a teenage girl who is learning
the piano, who draws pictures of the girl
who taught her about god. The books
keep you in: the one with the hotel,
the one with the plotting old women
in the apocalyptic nursing home. The hero often dies
at the end. What drives you into fictions? the texts ask.
Imbued with light, your hands seem flawless,
but is really like a betrayal. Knotted bones, scars,
nicks and spots make your hand. Imperfect,
the hand tells the body and so you drown it
in the ink of invention. You develop allegory
for the wave that washes over you. You build
a place in your books that explains away how
you gave and gave into the story, how
much we got from you in your station.
Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of a memoir and four poetry collections—Milk and Filth, finalist for the 2013 NBCC award in poetry. With John Chavez, she edited Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing published by Counterpath Press. A CantoMundo Fellow, she teaches in the creative writing programs at New Mexico State University, while serving as the publisher of Noemi Press. Carmen Giménez Smith is on the Editorial Board of The Literary Review
“And The Mouth Lies Open” was originally published in The Acentos Review in November 2010.