The Take Archives
at the Shark Bar on Amsterdam my date and I sip
martinis her eyes trance inward untangle roots
reaching deep to a stone she says she once grabbed
the hair of her ex’s rebound twisted horse tail
liquid around the veins of her fist stretched
accordion wheeze from the girl’s neck
my date stirs her drink with the cocktail stick
sucks the olives of my lidless eyes cackles
a crashing breaker vodka splashes everywhere
“Duende” is my nod to Federico García Lorca and the “dark sounds” he speaks of in his lecture “Theory and Play of the Duende.” Lorca talks about duende as “the spirit of the earth,” a “mysterious force,” “a struggle,” something that “surges up, inside” and “burns the blood like powdered glass.” My poem is about a former girlfriend and a story she told me about her ex-boyfriend’s new love interest.
From the Poetry Editors
We’ve all done it – eavesdropped on a couple’s conversation in a bar. Here, over martinis, the poet sketches the scene like a street artist. He draws us in, using a loose triplet form and spare narrative style. We recoil at his date’s passionate nature, but can’t walk away from the juiciness of an “ex’s rebound.” His date’s “eyes trance inward,” and by the end she “sucks the olives of my lidless eyes.” This poem is so real it hurts.
My brothers put Frank’s Red Hot
into their Ramens. Mix it red-orange.
The game is to see who can stand
the most heat. Who can assuage
the most hunger.
In New York, January is another
month of winter, like February.
Like most of March, much of April.
My socks are balled in the toe
of my rubber boots and I am six.
The cold gets in, in spite of.
In the morning, my brothers
have eaten everything in sight
––locust-ed the bread and saltines.
All our bowls are ringed with vinegar
and the sun spills itself on new snow.
When I was little, we lived on a farm in upstate New York. The winters there were very long, very bitter, and have managed to color most memories of my girlhood. The longer I am a poet, the more I find winter and snow sneaking into my writing. I think “Upstate” has been my most successful attempt to capture the over-largeness of New York winters, and the smallness of being a little sister.
From the Poetry Editors
Boswell provides a well-condensed narrative to a pop culture reference using literary tools such as juxtaposition and imagery. The contrast of heat on the Scoville scale against the cold of winter provides tactile imagery and levity. Her poem revolves around the ache of hunger, the scarcity of food, and a need to stay warm: “In the morning, my brothers have eaten everything in sight/–locust-ed the bread and saltines.” Boswell artfully reawakens the childhood experience. She provides us with a strong sense of place in northeastern America, its long winter seasons in her memory of socks balled up by the toes.