Avatar Review

Jody Helfand
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The Jungermans With Flock Of Chickens

She throws kitchen scraps and spare grain
to the flock of chickens in the yard.
She thinks: They must keep secrets. 
They can't all be as innocent as they seem. 
Then a picture is taken of her family
standing behind the chickens.

Later, she writes Don't forget us
and our yellow Orpingtons, on the back.
Memory is a funny thing, she realizes,
and a picture is nothing without its inscription.
She is the only one who is still thinking
of the chickens, shut in and safe in their house,
with the hinged shutters closed to keep in the warmth.

At night, a dark thought occurs to her. 
Where are the foxes? 
She wonders if the main door of the coup is closed,
but her thoughts aren't enough to get her out of bed.
She falls asleep and dreams of feeding chickens.
This time she throws them seeds and small insects.
They lay fresh eggs for her.
Then, the sun is no longer in the sky.

She sees fox fur on barbed wire, but the fox
leaves no tracks because his feet are covered with hair. 
She can hear his thoughts.
He'll slip through the small door on the roof,
sneak down quietly and sink his teeth
into his victim's back and drag her away.
Then, he'll bury her in one of the many places he stores food.

She screams when she wakes up,
but not because she cares about the chickens.
She realizes in the dream that she was the fox
who clawed at the vulnerable belly,
she was the one who was enjoying the taste.


Entrance Gate In Morning Light

The trees have listened for years
to the orchestra.
They've watched people
walk back and forth so many times
to the sounds of the instruments.

The wooden shoes
come back to them in dreams.

If you close your eyes and walk through the iron gate,
you'll see the cellist.
She's sitting off to the right, across from the brothel,
in front of the black kitchen. 

If you close your eyes, you'll hear eardrums vibrating
in the same pattern as the instruments. 

It's morning.
The trees have been thinking too much.
Of the bows, the strings, the fingers. 
Of a time they knew before this.


Lines From A Villanelle

The sun reminds me of Rachel.
I see her in the market with a guitar
and a tin of lavender hand salve.

It's surreal. 
I say: Pick a pronoun and call me he.  I appear and reappear when you say he.
(Lines from a villanelle she'll use in her next song)

She drifts between aisles
and stops to buy food for her cat Camille;
the one she left out on the roof for six hours during a blizzard.

It's surreal.
She brushes past and says: Excuse me, I didn't see you in the aisle.
A slight touch of my arm -- her hand

holds me for a moment, before I see
the woman I shared my body with.
Her hands on my breasts, over my thighs,

the curve of her tongue looking for something more
than the image of me in her bed.
And my words: I appear and disappear when you say
she, before I left.






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