By Lisa Bellamy
Featured Art: Jonge vrouw met een sigaret by Antonio Zona
The famous poet misheard my name after her reading:
“Lucy?” she asked as I introduced myself.
My ears perked up like an anxious dog off the leash
hearing the Beloved Friend call her name, suddenly alert
in the midst of the city’s distraction and babble:
fragrant pigeons just out of reach, sirens,
couples growling face to face in the street.
There’s nothing soft or vague about “Lucy.”
Lucy’s a dachshund digging under the rosebush
someone’s grandmother planted,
salivating for scraps of tasty mole,
ignoring cries and folded newspaper swatting behind her.
Lucy’s a bookie, porkpie hat on her head,
cigar clamped in her mouth.
She’s running on spit, playing the odds
for more time to make good on her bets.
“You’re getting bucky again,” my mother would say.
Snapshot: brown silky hair chopped at the ears,
bangs cut razor-straight. A Buster Brown,
they called it at the beauty salon.
Jaw set, lower lip ready for battle:
I am seven, in a fringed cowgirl suit
I wear even to bed,
cap pistols ready to go, in the holster.
She meant stubborn, dug-in
as in “No, I won’t eat the creamed corn,”
like my childhood guru, Peter Rabbit,
that canny model of spiritual development
who, refusing a life of deprivation
(pathetic nose pressed to the fence),
smashed constraints of class and birth,
feasted without regret on all
the French beans, lettuce and radishes he could eat.
Lucy, meaning light, or radiance,
bright with righteous rage for the newborns
who, eyes opening in wonder, flinch in pain and confusion
as nurses drop silver nitrate into their eyes.
Yes, I am anointed but no,
I will not stop to shovel manure.
I follow the one who parties with thieves and tax collectors,
drunkards carrying torches into the bridal chamber.
Those with eyes to see let them see.
Yes, I will pick up the slack but no,
I will not wait for the kingdom.
No, I will not save my best for the last.
I am the first and the last.
I am burning; a 10,000-year filament.
At daybreak I shook hands with Ezekiel
and he told me, “Girl, you’re doing just fine.”
Lisa Bellamy writes poetry and short prose. She teaches at The Writers Studio, where she studies with Philip Schultz. Her poetry collection, The Northway, was published 2018 by Terrapin Books. Nectar won an Aurorean chapbook contest. Her writing appears in literary magazines and mainstream publications. She has received a Pushcart Prize, a Pushcart Special Mention, a Fugue Poetry Prize, and honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She graduated from Princeton.
Originally published in NOR 6