October 5, 2009

Rachel Zucker's Museum of Accidents

I concluded my weekend reading with Rachel Zucker's newest collection, Museum of Accidents. I've been a huge fan of her work ever since I read The Bad Wife Handbook last summer, and this collection does not disappoint. I love the way she combines experimental poetry with an emphasis on the domestic aspects of life. And she has a real gift for drawing empathy from the reader. I'll never have children, but Zucker's poems make me feel like I've gleaned insight into what it means to be a parent (it also reinforces my decision that having kids is just not for me). Her writing turns the most mundane everyday things into radical and exciting ideas.

Rachel Zucker is the kind of poet who makes me feel both discouraged (I'll never be that good) and inspired (I have to keep working so I can be that good) at the same time. There are so few writers in the world who make me feel both emotions at once.

I'm going to leave you with one of my favorites in the collection.

Don't Say Anything Beautiful Kiss Me

       if my lips were rose petals they'd taste too bitter.
If my cheeks were apples they'd crawls with apple worms.
If my eyes were stars they'd be dead by the time you saw them.
If I moved you like the moon I'd disappear once a month.
If my teeth were Chiclets you'd want to chew on them and spit them out.
If my hands were birds you couldn't hold them; they'd peck you bloody.
Is my skin alabaster? Then it's cold and hard and one day someone will skin me,
     make me into a cold hard box tinged with pink or yellow, to hold unguents, then
     how will you love me?
If my vagina is a cool, dark forest you'll certainly be lost, you have no sense of direction.
If my vagina is a cave - watch out! It's prone to seismic shifts and avalanche.
If my vagina is a river of honey: orange, lavender, fine herbs, hazelnut, all too sweet.
And if my voice is music, it is unintelligible.
Don't say anything.
I am not a flower, but a body with rules and predictable, cellular qualities.
My eyelashes and fingernails and skin and spit are organized by proteins
     designed to erode at a pre-encoded date and time, no matter what you do or do
     not do to me -
I am remakably like an animal.
More like a heifer than a sunrise, I want to bite, stroke, swallow you so stop lying
     there trying to think of something to say and trying to understand me.
I am the body next to but unlike yours.
You already know me. You already know what I'm made of.

No comments: