SPRING 2013 (Issue 78)

Lindsay Daigle

Mise en Place   

Spoon (soup, not tea).
Bowl (deep, size of outspread hand).
Banana (still some green).
Knife (serrated, paring preferably).
Cereal box (whole grain, natural sweetness).
Milk (skim, recently purchased, cold).

“By soul, I mean soil.
And by soil, I mean terroir,”
says Randall Grahm.

I’ve been silent about water, water rising and other
seeds rooting rooms, pied-á-terre. Obsolete reaching, not
leaving, that’s me. I’m open to distance, mouths exiting
gold waters, mindful of the broken. There’s an island asking
frowns from the closest pier.

This was her dressing room. I’m standing right where Johanna died, yep right here. Some people think they smell that rose perfume of hers. They still can feel her presence—it rushes past them, they say, like a breeze. I’m not gonna lie, it’s freaky.

When stones line the road before us, I choose not
to hear the yellow. I choose to catch you with noiseless hands
and the fast asleep always that clogs my ears with skywater.

We rock like healing cubs, turn away from the glare.
The holes in lace are not meant to be repaired, not like potholes
in winter that shake your purpose, jostle
the symphonic miscommunication of saying.

The center
of the target
is negotiable

Waiting a long time
to get out
of the plane

And the place was concrete. The place had no sky.
It pushed night with bandaged hands and remembers
sitting quietly once. Place of too-tight winter scarf
safety, trauma signal dream replacement, no assembly
acquired after climbing scraper sides to reach up
and make shadow puppets. The place carried its own
papers, let you lick the edge, used a match. The place
started fires. The place was mirage water in a desert.

There’s somewhere. And there’s
somewhere else. Sitting in front
of the computer where 1am turns
into 3:45. Black Label, melted ice.
Constantly glancing in the mirror,
looking for what? Someone else
in the room? Checking to see
if I’ve lost weight in the last 3 minutes?
It’s me against you most days, mirror.

We had been to Egypt that day on our run along Lake Michigan.
Our climbing of the stairs up from the beach was only
an external decision, saying ‘yes’ because we knew the other wouldn’t
say ‘no.’

Position 1 will have the lobster. I place a sauce spoon to the right of her knife with my right hand because of the citrus sabayon that accompanies the dish.
Position 2 will have the beef tenderloin. I place a soup spoon to the right of his knife with my right hand because of the small dish of braised oxtail and pommes mousseline that accompanies the dish.
When I’ve finished, I tell the captain server, “Table 62 is mise’d.”

I can’t drink this water. Not just because it doesn’t belong to me.
And not just because it doesn’t call me by my first name. It’s your

slanted gaze at the poetry reading when I tell the room,
like the salt that spills in the wine.

I only wanted to mention the walls,
their flexing skeletal matter, how their whiteness

shines black and mocks the flying peanuts from pint glass
to pint glass. I wanted them to see it all. A few inked lines

and there—my hands tied with rocks
in my pockets, one holding down a letter on

the shore guarding its words from the wind.

I can tell you that that’s a Maple leaf, and that—that’s a Linden. That’s a Gingko, and there, that’s a London Plane. I can also tell you that President Obama addressed the nation this morning concerning health care, and the CNN newswoman’s yellow suit jacket brightened her face more than the navy blue one she wore yesterday. I’ll tell you also that the number 102 bus heading south on 3rd Avenue stopped for a red light at 20th Street around 4:45 this afternoon. I crossed in front of it. As did a 30-something guy in a tie and a white-haired woman holding a paper grocery bag. You might say that everything’s in its right place. You might not.

In 1989, the space shuttle Atlantis launches the Magellan probe toward Venus. After a journey of 15 months, Magellan uses radar eyes to peer through the clouds from orbit. Watching from Earth is Dr. Ellen Stofan.
When you have that ability to pick up an image and say, I’m one of the first people to ever look at this piece of ground on another planet, it’s such a sense of awe, a sense of discovery.

Let me tell you a tale of how I kept it all inside.

A decision
to accept
the weather

And the place was river river river lake
and back again. It was soft grass
made softer by blankets, fireworks among stars,
stars stars sun-stars on the water stars-
place. The place lifted silent birdsong-weights,
hollowed holes for rain drop birth, filled
them with life-soil, green forethought
pebbles, terroir that speaks. The place was held
and holds. The place carved its initials
in what we know to be true, what we know
to matter, wiping up a spill by walking over it
in socks, then wringing them out off the edge
of a pier under the bare moon, the one
that follows you wherever you go.