Poetry / Remi Recchia
:: Pastoral #1 ::
The cows are misting silent, burrowed in white softness & sky-down. I’m driving & you are golden, counting seconds against the digital clock of our old car (three accidents later, motor still warm, dash dented with a yellow bruise). Do you ever wish we weren’t here? We are fixtures of other- ness, one brown cow among the spotted herd. Rural eyes & cardinal sins, they are our gate- keepers, as if we need one reason to leave. I want to say I’m used to this turning, these fists hovering over my small face. I’m used to this orange scrutiny. But you are not & I don’t want you to know we’re alone, so let me be your star. We’ll paint the sky-canvas splotchy cow colors accented with sober love. Keep me in the dark. Hold dirty towels, always, stark neon against the pasture.
:: Pastoral #6 ::
We’re lying next to each other on Sunday morning, sleep- flowers pressed in your eyes, five o’clock shadow on my jaw. The Venetian blinds are half-drawn: fossil of wine & no filter. The slats can be rotated such that they overlap with one side facing inward & then in the opposite direction such they overlap with the other side facing inward. An old anniversary balloon wilts in the corner, & I’m reminded of last October when the clerk ID’d me at the gas station, said I’m too young to be married. What he didn’t know is I have already built a house, a home, a life. My palms sweat your absence on business trips. They butterfly your thigh at church. At home we administer our own communion. Between those extremes, various degrees of separation may be effected between the slats by varying the rotation. I haven’t been on a first date in so long, but darling, I’ve always known you. There are also lift cords passing through slots in each slat— & also the sun—there are also empty bottles on the counter—& also the red-stained rug. When these cords are pulled, the bottom of the blind moves upward, causing the lowest slats to press the underside of the next highest slat as the blind is raised. It took Christ four days to un-sleep Lazarus. We’ll sleep off last night together for hours, your legs curled into mine on a discount mattress & frayed blanket. A blue jay teaches his children to fly outside the window. A modern variation of the lift cords combines them with rotational cords in slots on the two edges of each slat. The baby birds plummet to the ground one after the other. Their father flies across the yard like a machine. We model our behavior so children can grow into their parents. This avoids the slots otherwise required to allow a slat to rotate despite a lift cord passing through it, thus decreasing the amount of light passing through a closed blind. Let the sun rise without us. Let’s miss business hours. Let’s fill our bellies on bread, on eggs, on cheese. You’ll put cinnamon in my coffee. I’ll drive you to work. We have so much time to burn these feathers.
Note: lines in italics taken from Wikipedia page on Venetian blinds.
From the writer
:: Account ::
I’m interested in what it means to belong somewhere, to truly fit in so when you look up from where you’re standing, you can say, I’m home. These poems trace the concept of belonging in both physical and emotional spaces. As a Midwestern poet, landscape is important to me. What I mean by that is I grew up always looking at something: at trees, at cows (see especially “Pastoral #1”), at nothing but a flat expanse of wheat while driving down the highway, which was, in its nothingness, everything. I was raised in Michigan and spent a significant, if not long, amount of time in Ohio where I was learning how to be a poet. Ohio is also where I met the love of my life.
This combination of romantic love and appreciation of landscape—which is love of landscape—may be best described as an attempt to follow the pastoral tradition in American poetry. Writing about romantic love while observing physical surroundings (and if you’re from the Midwest, you spend a lot of time in the car) is a way of placing myself somewhere. While I feel a deep attachment to the Midwest, the Midwest is not necessarily attached to me. I can see this in its numerous transphobic laws.
Maybe I’m hoping that paying homage to my place of origin will make it accept me. Maybe I’m trying to share the Midwest with my lover. Ultimately, the American pastoral gives me a space to do both things, and I hope I’m doing it justice in some way.
Remi Recchia is a trans poet and essayist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University. He currently serves as an associate editor for the Cimarron Review. Remi’s work has appeared in Columbia Online Journal, Front Porch, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among others. He holds an MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University.