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Laura Davenport

About the Poet

Laura Davenport’s work has appeared in Boxcar Poetry Review, new South, the Meadowland Review, Meridian, and Best New Poets 2009 among others. She currently lives in Savannah, Georgia.

Spring 2013 Poems »
On Reading Pessoa

Some fictitious village burns
on the page, defeated Persians
in a huddle and Pessoa describes
their dying: the wall scaled,
ever off-screen women pinned
against it. It’s hopeless, but then
the second author intervenes--
the girl who possessed this book
so many forgotten semesters ago.
In bubbly, rounded pen she gives
us back the meaning of events:
trees ripe with structured emptiness,
their leaves afire in the summer air,
release acrid aesthetic purity
which cloaks the ancient men
who sit and smoke, indifferent
to the screams of women dragged
from the wombs of their houses.
into the world, into the burning air
of modernity. The readers--she and I--
sit through the lecture as the old men,
waiting out the siege, playing
endless chess. And where the poem ends,
bold loops around the margins
as the invaders, finished with the women,
whack the old men:
I am so happy I am so
happy I am a kappa
kappa kappa kappa gamma.


Aubade: Evidence

Last night, a little drunk, you bragged about sex
in cars—awoke with his name still

on the roof of your mouth, first light recalling
the body’s questions, milky glare

through the windshield as the highway lights
wound back in red trails behind you,

that city you left staring back again through the dim
kitchen window. You had laughed,

detailing his car, his clothes, dark corners
of the parking deck and the rub of denim

on skin, as though you hadn’t just laid bare the last,
small secret of your life—

that sometimes, on a morning like this you awake
feeling haunted, hear voices in the kettle

steam: relax, relax. That urging heard
so many times since—insistence first timid

then not—his keys swayed in the lit ignition and you can’t
remember saying yes, or no. He’s nothing now

except the part of you that says it never happened,
then, it did, the you still being driven home

along the cliff road gazing down into the yards
of girls just like you, studying his hands

on the wheel and wondering at their gentleness,
the distance between skin, so that years later

it is only the hands that come back to you,
rougher than you remember, and the chime of your key

in the front door lock, undressing alone in your room,
pale wrists turned up to the mirror to catch

the fading heat of them, the proof already gone.


Some Women Fling Open Their Shutters
  after Pavese

It’s raining on houses: the blind drops roll
down red-tiled roofs scattering people
and things: hunched under awnings, the children
in their school clothes, the café broken up,
saucers and papers held high, cups catching rain.
Some women fling open their shutters, pull wash
from the lines. High over the street the pullies

creak and move. It must be redone, redone, shaken
out, soaked again and dried, the sky already
on its way to dusk. Now children slither in, soaked,
fling their rolled knee socks on the radiator.
The room is damp and warm, strung up laundry tickles
their necks. A fan whirs. Didn’t they see
what would happen? Gathering the clothes

from corners, under beds, the morning clouds piled
on the sky’s western edge. Dark imprints from the first
drops dampening undershirts, twill workpants,
weighing the line. Day’s labor is gone. No time
now to laze under a lamp, warm in the rising
breeze. No time to read Husband’s paper and with care
re-crease, press it smooth into its place beside the chair.


Reconsider the Western
How the whore stands wordless on the balcony,
  one light in a black well, the alley
    where the hero’s bobbing Stetson disappears—

  the hat he crushed or twirled
between his hands as he sat dumbstruck
  on the bed. Not taking her, no, but having

    been moved, he leaves a few coins
  anyway. Easy sex must have impediments—
buck teeth or scars, a child tucked away

  who is, in the end, revealed—some outward
    semblance of shame. But this one: she’s frail,
  consumptive, the pitiful ward

of the madam. And the hundreds of men
  that pass through the territory
    are like clouds passing over the still plain

  of her body, the field our hero stumbles onto,
drunk on whiskey and the morning glow,
  wheat-colored like her hair.

    It’s like this: afraid, but drawn
  to her. He wants her but not
here, not now. And riding past the double-forked

  cottonwood, a branch bends to the water
    as she is bending to dip fresh cloth to wipe
  each new face, each rough and heavy customer.



Laura Davenport ~

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