Beethoven at Breezy Point, by Reeves Keyworth
It’s as if somebody has run a thin wire
into my body—perhaps my heel—
streaming low-level electricity
up my feet and legs, through my arms and hands,
across my back in waves. It gathers in my thorax,
especially the left side,
so that my heart is caught in a troubled net
of dirty energy.
Illness eats me alive.
How can I learn to do this?
How can I thaw a place with my breath
where I can stay out my time?
In her poem “Song of the Bone Marrow,” Reeves Keyworth poses the unutterable question. Further on in the poem she stakes her turf:
Tell me not to be faint of heart.
But if affliction has never
rubbed you away
until the rivers of your sight are bitten off
and the palms of your hands drown
you can’t tell me how to do it.
It is this willingness to open a vein for the reader, coupled to Keyworth’s clear-eyed inspection of the world, which vivdly and intelligently inform her new chapbook, where the familiar is suddenly illuminated fresh, as when she osberves anew the statues gracing the NYC public library, and lets them deliver a central message of her book:
I notice for the first time that
Patience and Fortitude, the lions,
are thin: bony in fact,
with scrawny flanks and baggy skin.
As they guard the greedy
savannah of the street,
I read their lesson:
scrounge what you may,
but hunger can be endured.
– Excerpt, “How to Live in New York”