This week I’m sharing a poem from Danielle Cadena Deulen’s book Our Emotions Get Carried Away Beyond Us which I reviewed earlier this week.
In my review I focused on how the poems in the collection have a particular way of approaching the self as a moment of awareness and interpolation. This week’s poem, “Constellation,” does this work via the immediacy of a speaker engaged in an address of memory and revelation. By weaving the narrative of a specific memory with the narratives the speaker carries about their friend, the poem creates its own constellation of vivid recollection.
What holds these materials together is the box-like conceptual form, which begins with the first words of the poem: I close my eyes and it’s you with the boy. From the darkness behind the speaker’s eyes arises the memory of the friend with an immediacy and emotional charge that evokes the book’s title; the reader is “carried” into the memories of the speaker. Yet, with the poem’s final image, which compares the night sky to a box, we are once again in darkness, captivated by the voice of the friend, who gets in the last fateful word.
Constellation – Danielle Cadena Deulen
I close my eyes and it’s you with the boy
in the rain, zipping up his pants in the green,
hulking shrubs. You, marching out
like a one-girl parade, your face so white,
red-cheeked-cold and smiling like you do when
you’ve got away with something,
while I stand there as speechless as a crushed
bottle in the lot behind the 7-Eleven with
the other boy, wating for you to return
and not kissing him because I’ve never been
kissed by anyone but you and he’s not
prety. He’s smoked four Marlboros, shamed
them all beneath a rubber sole and picked at
the pimples on his chin, asking stupid
questions like So, do you like movies? And,
Do you think they’re doing it now? As if the
thought of you unbuttoning his dirty jeans and
kneeling down in the gravel at the roots
of the bush might inspire me to prostrate
myself before him, too. You’re fast.
You’re so fast that almost no one can see you,
that flash across your face when your boy
doesn’t stumble out declaring his love, when
we don’t applaud. No one but me can see
that you think he’s left you already–like your
father, your mother’s boyfriend, the last boy
you kissed and the boy before him. You’ll quit
school before you get through them all.
Sixteen and already a gallery of lovers: Boy
with Car, Boy with Tattoo, Boy with Crystal–later,
the boy who will leave money on your dresser
before he strides out your door, your face full
of sores, your teeth knocked out. He appears
behind you, encircles your waists, sucks on your
neck just to leave a mark. When we’re lying,
legs tangled together later than night,
I’ll touch the indefinite edges of his love-
bruise, a darkness surfacing from within your
pale skin. Of the boy, you’ll say, He says
he thinks I’m pretty, and the stars, far up
beyond a torn screen of clouds, They’re like
diamonds in a box that no one opens.
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