Thursday, January 24, 2008


(Maggie and Gail Gordon, circa 1981, on the back stoop of my flat on Brosnan Street, San Francisco)

All of these poems were written during my 20s, the period of time when I was working intensively on overcoming my sexual abuse history and also dealing with the death of my mother. A couple have been published ("Sanctuary" and "Secrets", I think). My style has grown so much, I post these here as a placeholder and small revelation rather than a contemporary statement. The last two were written for Janice Kant.


She finds
even the breath before a kiss
She rides on the surface
of our visits,
a waterstrider
gliding away in a burst
at the least shadow of passion.
She knocks about
the familiar acres of her world
knobby as an eight-year-old,
safe in daydreams.
She climbs down
into chasms
which open at her feet,
without line, without
other hands to haul her up.
She climbs down
to the heart of the earth
and brings back
old doorknobs from her childhood,
unmatched buttons torn from shirts,
bottles whose labels
still glint.
She will study these
as if they hold a secret,
as if, properly arranged,
they will point the way to sanctuary.

She is looking for sanctuary.
I am looking for her.



We spoon
and I feel new, curving ridges
beneath the skin
of your shoulderblades.
As I doze
I think later I will offer
to rub ointment
to ease the canker
of the wings
sprouting there.



After the first couple of years
when he came messing at me
I somehow learned
to leave my body,
leave it to him
while my heart traveled out
of his reach.
Sometimes I watched
from a high corner of the room,
watched his stubbled cheek
burn my flat chest,
his football player fingers
shoved into my vagina,
watched my skinny throat
try to swallow the stuff.
Those next four years
have no sight no sound.

A friend of mine
wants a big mirror
for the ceiling
over her bed.
So she can watch.

Later, I will explain
what I can.

ca. 1983


You slide through my pockets
looking for secrets
to suck like butterscotches
for a flavour of me.

I startle at your guesses.

In a family where
one would spread me, bleeding,
any way he could
and another would use
my big eyes and willing ears
as the mother she never had,
I decided my survival
would depend
on staying hidden.
I have tended myself well.
I am only hurt,
not diminished.
The secrets you suspect
are just me.

But you are not even close.
Your suspicion and need
have nothing to do with me.
I have relaxed, knowing
you cannot hear my breath,
have missed my
inadvertent clues.
Your love is a fine feast
but what I mean to say is
you are not enough
to move me from my fastness,
and I could not guess
which of us
is more sorry.

28 January 1984


We are not quite
Lack torch
To melt us
Close off the exit
We have marked all this time
This time
You are suspicious
Check my hands for matches
Think I may strike a blaze

You are right

13 September 1984


There is a heart of winter promise
a dark moon hush
in how I am learning
to love you.

I wake up early,
sly out to lunch alone,
take longer baths,
so I'll have time
to think about you.

5:40 a.m., 19 May 1984


Skin the color of cambric tea
at times darkening
into the shell brown
of early pecans

Underneath baggy shirts,
soft chinos,
your muscles
like oiled wood

We are downtown clerical workers,
a block apart.
Despite all clues
we blend in on the subway
on the streets
except when desire trips me
and I want to suck at your neat stitches
till they give way
the heat pouring into my mouth.

14 September 1984, 1:40 p.m.

© Maggie Jochild

1 comment:

letsdance said...

Umm, the mystery, the haunting of the past. Thanks, Maggie.