Meditation with [A Dishwasher] Inside It
What I was saying,
is exactly the kind of breathturn I would like to tell you all
about over dessert. Which is, incidentally, in so many less
pentameric words, what Hamlet, the after-hours barbarian,
was saying about Ophelia, which is not only a coercing
and mean-spirited way to think but also quite a good joke.
So, you’ll notice the way this woman, who might, given
the proper pre-Elizabethan tete-a-tete, be on her cobbled
way to being Shakespeare’s grandmother, cuffs her sleeves
once to absorb any dishwater below the elbows, and how
the honeycomb of suds on her forearms beads out a dotted
Pollock of the room, which might, to a better-worked eye,
be telling the bearded fringe of the curtain that it’s alright
to drape its hot, must-summery form over the back of
the reflected washbasin. Mind your manners. This is how, one
must imagine, she does the dishes, because she’s only twenty-
two, and because it is customary, in a century, which this
sentence seems to have swum her into, to set the table
with pastry-forks and china thrown in the Weimar Republic.
She has set her constitution right with leaded-rouge and a cable-
knit Aran sweater, machine made in a factory in Vladivostok. Which
is what I was saying, is it not? We’ve bleached the linens, drains,
the ringlets of our hair, our bustles, all the sorry thoughts we
might have shocked out conscience with, over our black pudding
at elevenses, the cod in miso paste, the way we might’ve
foxtrotted with her along the grand dinning room’s elaborate
table runner, whilst the whole goddamned ship slides into
the Adriatic, letting us lead the wide way to Atlantis, or shaken
out our petticoats during to the duller sweeps of Glass’ late
concerto’s, or Coltrane’s Sprial’s G-myxolydian dip at around
the two-minute-ten-second mark which, in those giant steps could
make a thinking and upstanding diner lose track of what they where
saying in the first place. So then, you’ve had your fun with history,
engendered it, then threshed it, chafed your hands. Yorick’s sockets
hollow for your cavendish flake, your fingers when they’re idle
on a match. You tune your music to the key of methane, the minor-
third of misalliance, because you only have your piece to say.
Your dawdle: thanks, little lady, for the Strudel. Such refinement,
balance in the crust. We’ve come so far from what we had for
lunch. And there, out in the settling, Long Island permafrost,
you might just hear the gyre being widened: handaxe, hoe, and dozer.
Joint-by-subluxed-joint. O lord! to run a table knife along
the tendon, as if increase of appetite had grown by what it fed on.
George Kovalenko is a poet whose work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review Online, Ninth Letter, American Literary Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of fellowships from New York University and the Saltonstall Foundation. A founding editor of Poet’s Country, he lives and teaches in New York City.