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Antonia Alexandra Klimenko

Childhood

 

Your first drawing is of the sun  You color it round 

and bright like the bouncing ball your father gives you 

when you are just three   What delight you take in both losing 

and reclaiming it, together, as you run far through the leaves 

with the sky and the wind  Now, he thinks, you will remember 

 

what it feels like...to hold a  world in your hands    

Your mother’s world is of a different light  She will hold you 

in the spell of her song which will assume different shapes. At first, 

you will want to carry it with you wherever you go  One day, it will 

take you to deep places that move you   as she fades quietly 

 

like the melody or the more subtle color you use to paint a dream

Your dream is your portal to the world    

Drawn through the rainbow of your imagination—

it is being colored continually by your perceptions  

You will spend most of your childhood in its sphere

Here, you polish the moon and shine the stars 

and trace your name on fragile glass  You wonder 

where the blue begins and worry about where it ends

 

Most of the time you spend waiting 

waiting for your father    to one day return 

waiting for your mother  to come tuck you in

waiting for loneliness      to leave you alone 

The terror of the dark    The terror of your song 

catching in your throat like a kite in the branches of trees

 

Later, of course,  there is the terror of stumbling through 

entire sentences 

of being lost among strangers     so tall

you cannot see their faces     and. 

of the hand that once firmly held yours...  slipping away 

 

Much later, of course, there is the terror 

of losing most of your crayons

Interrogation of the Moon

 

Where've you been?

Where're you going?

What’re you doing?

How long?

Who with?

What for?

 

He prunes back your favorite rosebush-

now a miniature bonsai`

This should have been your first clue

 

He plows through you like pulp fiction--

the next chapter is Poland

This should have been your first clue

 

He cross-examines your dreams--

some of them escape with only third degree burns

This should have been your first clue

 

Later

he will probe holes in your stories

(the size of craters)

They all end badly

 

He will ask impossible questions"

And what have you done with the stars?"

for which you ponder improbable replies

"I had them for breakfast 

when my back was turned?"

 

He will remind you

he is there to remind you

your only safe alibi is death

 

The first clue is 

there is no second clue

 

I tell him:

a quick strip-search of this poem

and you will find nothing

Even as I speak

I am eating my own words

 

One by one...

in reverse order--

the rose petals

the stars

the breadcrumbs in the forest

One by one

they explode on my tongue

they dissolve into the darkness

that stumbles into night

 

Even as I speak

I am erasing every trace

every feature of my landscape

I am changing my name to Daisy

and I am moving to another town

 

It's useless to question the moon...

better you interrogate the sun

The Bridal Train                  

 

Are we there yet?

Will I fit in?

Will our shoes match

Will I be able to squeeze both my feet into them

or just my soul?

Is there an overhead compartment

for my heart?

 

When I was a child of six, I traveled light

I was the golden girl, the mermaid of my dreams

who received messages from angels and western union

who saved you from getting lost in your own story

who dove deep into the open wound of your psyche

and emerged singing with your soul           

I was the one

who lived in a seashell of mystical proportion

who whispered sweet healings in your ear

who called to you with a voice from beyond

 

When I was seven, I cut off my tail

and planted it in the ground

I sang to it every day, thinking

it would take root, thinking

I could put it on ice, thinking

I could slip away or slip it on

whenever it suited me

When it didn't grow back

I stuffed my dreams into an empty shoe box--

every year one size too small

 

Are we almost there? How much farther?

I stop to dress my wounds. Instead,

I work on the knot   You would undo both, I think

but you are already unmaking  the bed

Entrenched in your wasteland

you wait for me to warm your cold interior—

Siberia in a box car

 

I cannot warm your Siberia

I cannot warm even mine

I cannot warm even these thoughts

nor can they reflect any longer

 

I pour myself out of the looking glass--

unravel the blue translucent gauze of deception

I, a woman, half-ocean

fully exposed, raw, imperfect, in useless mixed metaphor

am, by my own undoing

almost completely undone

 

Shivering and limp

I wrap myself in seaweed

and drag myself across your drunken landscape

like the moon who must forever

drag behind her the sea--

the liquid dream all but drained out of me--

 myself drifting away. 

 

Your face floats above me

 then passes through me--a puff a smoke.

Your eyes, once the pistons of stars

 now passengers of a moving train

 pumping iron on its haunches

 

I have no more legs to spread,

no more dark secrets to spill

or reattach

We have already come

full stop

 

Arriving together separately

my lonely echo bounces from car to car

before retuning  returning to the sea

You cannot enter my kingdom

 I cannot exit yours.

 

Oh; God, are we not the perfect pair!

Antonia Alexandra Klimenko was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary Tambimuttu of Poetry London--publisher of T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Pablo Neruda and Bob Dylan, to name a few. Although her manuscript was orphaned upon Tambi's passing, her poems and correspondence are included in his Special Collections at Northwestern University: A former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion, her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including CounterPunch, Van Gogh's Ear Anthology, Strangers in Paris--New Writing Inspired by the City of Light, Occupy Wall Street Anthology (in which she is distinguished as an American Poet) and Maintenant: Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and New York's Museum of Modern Art. Her collages have been exhibited at the DIFFA (Design Industry Foundation for Aids) Showhouse in San Francisco and featured in Home and Garden Magazine. She lives in Parsis.