Sweat

Friday night I entered a dark corridor
rode to the upper floors with men who filled
the stainless elevator with their smell.

Did you ever make a crystal garden, pour salt
into water, keep pouring until nothing more
dissolved?
A landscape will bloom in that saturation.

My daddy’s body shop floats to the surface
like a submarine. Men with nibblers and tin snips
buffing skins, sanding curves under clamp lights.

I grew up curled in the window of a 300 SL
Gullwing, while men glided on their backs
through oily rainbows below me.

They torqued lugnuts, flipped fag ends
into gravel. Our torch song
had one refrain — oh the pain of loving you.

Friday nights they’d line the shop sink, naked
to the waist, scour down with Ajax, spray water
across their necks and up into their armpits.

Babies have been conceived on sweat alone —
the buttery scent of a woman’s breast,
the cumin of a man. From the briny odor

of black lunch boxes — cold cuts, pickles,
waxed paper — my girl flesh grows.
From the raunchy fume of strangers.

—Sandra Alcosser

~~~~~~~~~~~❖❖❖❖~~~~~~~~~~~


FROM THE ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS: Sandra Alcosser was born in Washington, DC, in 1944, and she grew up in South Bend, Indiana. She received her B.A. from Purdue University in 1972 and an M.F.A. from the University of Montana in 1982, where she studied with Richard Hugo. She is the author of Except By Nature (Graywolf Press, 1998), which received the Academy’s 1998 James Laughlin Award and was selected by Eamon Grennan for the 1997 National Poetry Series; Sleeping Inside the Glacier, a collaboration with artist Michele Burgess (1997); and A Fish to Feed All Hunger (1993), which was selected by James Tate to be the Associated Writing Programs Award Series winner in poetry. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and The Yale Review.

Alcosser’s honors include a Montana Artist Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, a Pushcart Prize, a San Diego Artist Fellowship, and a Writer’s Voice New Voices of the West Award. Formerly the director of Central Park’s Poets-in-the-Park program in New York City, Alcosser started the MFA Program in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. She is currently a professor of poetry, fiction, and feminist poetics at San Diego State University, and has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Montana, and Louisiana State University. Alcosser divides her time between San Diego and Florence, Montana.

~~~~~~~~~~~❖❖❖❖~~~~~~~~~~~

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Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 11:25 PM  Leave a Comment  
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