Jessica Q. Stark Jacksonville (Dustin Brookshire)
In Want of a Quiet Place
The news is featureless today, which feels oceanic—a calm, threatening place marker
between catastrophes. Tomorrow, there will be more tongues on the vacated state
of some anonymous womb, some new language for rubbernecking desire,
some paralyzing provision on more men holding guns holding hostages
holding guns in this haughty age of deep-sea, sedating rage.
Most powerful women scandal-suck marrow and then find a new name,
so let me state her plain: Cora Ethel Eaton Howarth, Cora Murphy,
Cora Stewart with a shake-less chaperone, Cora Cora Cora Crane
making coffee, Cora Taylor, Hotel of Dreams.
And my favorite: Imogene Carter—savvy-saw war correspondent vying for a novel
mind and another nation on behalf of women, though she admits out there
she only found more men plucking flowers for dead stones.
Every neighbor she met was a thesaurus for bad woman on the basis of too much
or too little love. Every storm scale is a matter of perspective. At the turn
of the century, a red light provided both theater and information: copaiba oil
for stomach cancer. Mercury, arsenic, and vinegar for a different face.
Once, I was determined to re-read the review that underscores my ambition,
and with that, I was enlisted. Danced it near-naked for student loan
forgiveness--to forgive me. Or the time I was tipped a phone number
at Duke’s Bar in Midtown and smiled at the candid tedium
of my feminine situation. Look, this poem has a seam, too,
and I’m in it for the gamble. I’m in it for the information, for the pursuit
and rise of whole buildings of women moving breathlessly next door.
But mostly, I’m in want of some quiet place, Cora Cora, aren’t you?
Some footpath out of this invisible battlefield. It takes so much
thinking to make a life, to make a decent dress. It takes so much
of me to resist horizontal living.
A contemporary review of Cora’s failed writing stresses that her stories graze a
purpose, but they never come to full fruition—all rumination, no point,
not enough blast. Cora’s grave features the wrong birthdate. Her death date, too.
There’s no fabric to a pointing limb, but the reviewer did include an accurate
description of the cause of death.
She died on the beach after trying to move a car that was trapped—stone stuck--
to way down deep in the sand.
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