The rental

I blame historical romances for
The house I bought because, of course, Mayfair,
The one in central California, was
a neighborhood well-known to the police;
My house, a duplex on some dirt with junk:
one half a crack den; and the other a hutch
for  a woman who kept broken glass on hand
to climb into her windows. This would be
 
two rents for my retirement, a sinkhole
for my extra cash, a broken cup to catch
my hopes and dreams , like syllables in stressed based feet.
 
To start, I made a list, and then we cleared
the dustpans full of mice and roaches, the pot
in bags inside the closet, the kiddy porn
with blank faced toddlers, the sconces with missing bulbs—
too much for me alone—And then we moved
 
on to the yellow bathtub, the crusty toilet,
the orange spotted basin. . The stove and fridge …
just too far gone, the kitchen cabinets
and all the closets oozing a paste, part grease,
 
part sand, part fecal matter. As we cleaned,
we’d have to stop to fix what strangers broke
at night, the bedroom window nearly pried
out of its frame, the new solar lights knocked off
the eaves, the brick and shards inside the living room,
the human turds at both the doors (again),
and all the while the climbing tenant high
or off her meds, expertly popping out
the kitchen window by twisting at its catch,
and opening to spew alternative selves,
 
which I ignored while dealing with the overpaid
help—the guy who cleared the junk (one rent), the gal
who pressure-washed the walls (another rent),
the licensed electrician of the fans
that spun like blenders and glared like runway lights.
 
But my biggest nag was tucked behind it all:
The backyard, a sad slab of cement—
a little ponchy, very cracked, and hot,
so bare and living it could be a lab.
Still, it made me think of sonnets, so …
 
I had three flower boxes cut and trimmed
in a doublestrand of bricks: in one, the birds
of paradise; inside the other two,
a pair of scented trees; around them all,
a ring of roses, jasmine, lavender,
bright nose-dull agapanthus; and tucked against
 
a corner, on a post, the resin form
of the Guadalupe, the mother of God, the one
who’s standing on an angel and the moon,
who dresses in a cloak of stars, the one
whose comfort is a scold: “Am I not here—
I who am your mother?” I put her there
 
under an arch of metal leaves, beyond
a pool of roses humbled into smalls
around a fountain, there between two mission lamps,
and there before a bench for contemplation.
 
She’s been there, watching for an entire year:
The pair of cats that sprayed new carpeting,
The novice cook who stained the kitchen table
With skillet burns that overlapped into a wreath,
The waffle shoe that snapped my toothpick shrubs
In twos and threes each time I replanted them,
The scrawny dog that spent its time crouched
To crap and crap and crap and crap and crap—
brown crap, black crap, green crap, putty crap, puddle crap—
on pavement, bricks, flowers, the water drips,
the finger marked glass blades the tenant pulled
out of the ground when she couldn’t get inside,
the sagging roof, the rusting swamp coolers, the two
dead branches from a tree that shades the house,
both large, stretched out above the carport, dark
against the sky, like twin swords of Damocles,
the couplet from a poem about to end,
or fingers pointing from art or random shit.

 

Taking shape

Knitting starts with a loop,
sometimes a knot. In either case, it’s a hole
in space small enough
to catch another hole and then another
hole until a line … and then a plane or a tube is formed,
 
as solid as the back of a sweater,
as thick as a mitten, as sheer
as a pair of silk stockings, worked
closed for modesty
or eyeleted for summer lace.
 
But there’s more than that.
There’s starting
with the loop and line, looping
that line into a ring, weaving
a tail into the hole, stacking holes
onto more holes and crowding
more holes between to draw
shapes around the central space:
 
For hexagons that lie flat, increase
1 stitch on 2 sides of 6
stitches over rounds divisible by 3 so that every 6th
round there is a total of 24
 
more stitches, like the 24 hours in a day
or the 24 months in 2 years
or the 24 years of adulthood between
youth and middle age.
 
The 24 is important
because the ratio has to be
an average of 8 every other round,
and so is the 6 because 6 is the number of sides
 
the form aspires to be.
 
1 increase on 2 sides of 4 stitches over even
rounds makes a square;
1, on 1 side of 8 makes an octagon, a wheel
With spokes if they alternate, a swirl if they’re kept
on 1 side or the other all the time,
 
in either case motion, speed, ineluctability.
It’s knowing how
to work it out:
 
1 stitch on both sides of 3 over 2
rounds, with 1 round at rest, for a triangle;
 
1 stitch on 2 sides of 5 over every 2nd
and 5th of 5 for a pentagon;
 
1 stitch on both of 7
over every 3rd, 6th, and 9th
of 10 for a heptagon;
 
1 on 2 of 9
over the 4th and 9th of 9
for a nonagon
(who knew?);
 
for a decagon, both sides
of 10 over every 5th;
 
and for an undecagon, (11 sides,
not the opposite of 10), 1
on 2 sides of 11
over the 5th, 10th, 16th,
and 22nd of 22.
 
A circle is just a duplication
of all stitches on rounds that are the double
of the 1 increased
before, starting with 2: 4, 8,
16, 32, 64 ….
 
always the 8,
always the spaces,
always the spiral until
 
it's bound
off into a solid self.
 


Ana Garza G'z has an M. F. A. from California State University, Fresno, where she teaches part-time. Sixty-five of her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, most recently in _The New Verse News_. She also works as an interpreter and translator.
 

ANA GARZA G'Z

 

 

 

 Hemisfair LB Johnston Mixed media 6x9

Hemisfair
LB Johnston
Mixed media
6x9