Poem of the Week: from “Ampersand Revisited,” by Simeon Berry


I’d like to walk again in her weather, in the dark

through the fog,

its gray damage

laid down all over town.

When she couldn’t bring herself to get up

from the bed, Belinda would say

it was like being

the most stylish drowned person in the whole universe.

It was the only likeness she allowed herself, besides

married women.

I asked her.

Me? I’m the old word. What do you call it. A Sapphist.

I think she liked to take them back from that kind

of touch. To smudge

the clear blueprints of oil from their breasts.

Her words were so wet the women took a long time

to notice how few of them she said.

For a year in college, I built myself into her silence.

It was so much effort

to even appear to be

interested in what anyone else was saying

that I thought

everyone could hear the splice

when the power died & the negatives unspooled


on the black floor

below my brain.

Now, in this double darkness, I don’t hate being

in the poem

or my body.

I can use my aesthetic expense account to underwrite

the hidden z

in kismet aphasia.

Under each footfall, there’s a penny on which someone

has scratched: i hert,

misspelling it so I won’t get it wrong.

I can take everything away, become only a breath

with a lisp of salt, & no one—

not the speaker, not his stand-in—

can bring me back.



Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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