DONALD RAWLEY

American Beauty

I was a bastard
conceived in back
of a turquoise Chrysler
in 1957, in Evanston, Illinois.

The landscape of my conception
was stained
with grey, acid towns,
sharp grass
and grimacing highways of snow,
momentarily white
as a butcher's clean apron.

I decide my mother
was wearing orchids
on her wrist.

They shook like soft bells
under my father.

It must have been a night
with no stars.
Singed early spring blue
and perfumed by frosted trees.

I was premature,
a breech birth,
nine hours in delivery.

I weighed five pounds
with a huge head
the doctor could mold
into another shape
if done right away.

My mother said no.
There were American Beauty roses
from her mother and grandmother.

She dreamed of blood.
A sleekness of wet things that cry.

A Chicago wind slid
into my lungs
when I screamed.

Subject to instant fevers
I was wrapped
in tin foil
and placed on ice.

We left my father
for Phoenix
when I was a year old.

Dressed in a cowboy suit
I slept on the plane,
not knowing then
I would be held in arms of air
for the rest of my life;

this is how we are loved.
In someone else's eyes.

We fly asleep,
we dream standing
and we never let go.

Duende 1994, Black Tie Press. All rights reserved.

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