Dear Reader, I Love the Third Person
Terri Brown-Davidson

I love the way male poets self-aggrandize
via an impersonal third-person address:
is “Gerald Stern,”even as a construct,
Poet, Character...or Godhead?
Similarly, I crave a method
by which to elevate the status of my own intensely female activities.
Though I don’t know much Latin, the poetical species
“Brown-Davidson” might suit my ego nicely
though my day, apparently, is minuscule compared
to the grandeur of Stern’s, of Pinsky’s,
made up of scraps of moments, fragments of memory
so distinctly pedestrian that my four-year-old’s inclined
to fall asleep clutching her wet, chewed blankie
as I launch into a defense of/explanation of my day.
But “Forewarned equals forebored,” perhaps,
as any wise woman will claim,
though a difference I’ve observed between men and their opposites
is that women shut up when stultifying others
whereas men go on and on...natter and patronize
until All Women Have Deserted the Building.
Therefore, a distinctly Terri-like revelation is,
upon this moment, attendant
as I launch my description of my Preschooler-Momma’s Day,
“fascinating” or “mesmerizing” or—less ambitiously—“merely relevant”
though any Dear Reader I snag is a Dear Reader lost
to the Franz Wrights and Stanley Plumlys, too,
a distinctly feminine blow, probably, for the latter,
who once described my own work as possessing “hysterical sexual energy”
(in contrast to his own, which, I’m convinced, features
no energy whatsoever but lots of pretty images of flowers
and hands, trees and bumblebees).

Therefore: Caveat Emptor. A Day in the Life
of a Brown-Davidson follows. July 19th, 2004, to be exact,
though signaling an exact date in writerly terms
is asinine at best; still, a conventional ploy might function deftly
to enable the Reader to survive the fascination of these inchoate
moments, which a Stern might describe as “minuscule”
or “kaleidoscopic” though, to me, they’re
not celebratory or Godsplendidly transcendent
but simply...irrefutably...are.

Five-thirty a.m., and the goddamned alarm brayed,
causing my husband and me not to roll but to erupt
from bed, the blankets wrapped around our necks
as if we’d attempted self-immolation
in our sleep, a hyperbolic move, almost Plath-worthy,
occurring in my recitation now
though only the subtlest of readers will notice,
which is the bane—isn’t it?—of any poetic thread.
Once awake, my husband and I tracked
the heady scent of dark roast brewing
in our kitchen: no epiphany yet as we stood peering
at each other glass-eyed over our stained red coffee rims,
though Pinsky might insert a poignant moment here, something like
“The black coffee winding down my throat produced
a tunnellike effect of raw, opening awe,”
or Doty, whom I much admire, might intone
“The lapidary loveliness of the dark, jeweled brew
makes me shiver/Like the wind-blessed day I encountered/
Walking my dog.”

Still. And However. There was no rapture drinking our coffee,
no Emersonian transcendence that vaulted me up to hover
against the corner of our distinctly dust-bunnied kitchen
as levitating poets tend to do, especially when particularizing
their ecstasy. At the exact moment when Iver and I were swallowing
Sip Three of our blessed overboiled java,
our daughter, Mei Li, wandered muttering into the kitchen,
each inside thigh sticky and slick
because Iver’d forgotten to put training pants on her before bed.
And though“The Poetic Moment”could have arrived then
as I contemplated the essential mystery of the sweetly acidic
substance, wholly golden, that had leaked down my daughter’s legs,
as I immersed myself in a Tangential Black Rage that eddied out from Iver
to include All Forgetful Homo Sapiens Living, But Especially
Males of the Species Who Seek to Promulgate Sexism Everywhere,
I knew that the moment, like our sickly green bananas plastic-bagged
upon the counter, was not yet ripe, and so I changed Mei Li’s sopping panties,
downed my morning meds (three pretty, striped pills no menopausal
poet can live without), fed Spiderman cereal to Mei Li in a plastic bowl.

And my husband, distinctly un-Achilles like, departed
out the door.

It was only later that the Moment came.
Later, I want to emphasize to Stern and Pinsky,
to Plumly and Doty and Wright,
after the dull bland wash of oatmeal moments
that had consituted Most of My Twelve Waking Hours:
strolling the Taylor Ranch recesses of dead shrubbery
to walk my bladder-packed dog;
putting four Dora Band-Aids on my preschooler’s owied arms;
brewing yet another pot of Dear God, Jumpstart My Heart Faster
because I can’t live without caffeine while critiquing student poems.
It was much later in the day when The Rapture Finally Arrived,
the single transcendent second I’d survived the entire day for,
Mei Li napping on the rose corduroy dish chair,
the dog—belly-plumped and sated—
sleeping on the berber carpet,
her frantic dream paws waving languorously after rabbits;
and I was alone in the Master Bathroom, gloriously alone,
tracing my paper-textured and intensely pallid skin
as I scrutinized myself in the mirror,
wondering where the Wildly Ambitious UberGirl of My Youth had fled,
before dreams of motherhood and quiet, sunsplashed days
entered my consciousness,
before I knew that a life worth dwelling inside
could be almost intensely silent:
tinged with a hint of melancholy, I fingered my sagging jaw line,
worried about the Wattle Fairies,
who were beginning to work their woeful magic
on my gently sagging neck:
and then, and then the moment came;
I felt the ache, the contraction, the blood heat
easing down my thighs,
the rush of raw energy staining my plump calves
as Mei Li’s had been soaked by a wholly different substance:
and I smiled, that day, July 19th, 2004:
my period came, and I smiled.

 

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