Kelly Dolejsi’s work has been published in Cincinnati Review, North American Review, Denver Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, and West Texas Literary Review, among other journals. Her poem “Loyalty” was nominated for the Best of the Net. Additionally, her chapbook, That Second Starling, was published by Desert Willow Press. A graduate of Western New Mexico College in Silver City, NM, and Emerson College in Boston, she now lives in Los Alamos, NM, with her husband and daughters.
She felt an almost an erotic desire to
give in to aging, to stay still when she
could move, to stiffen when she could
stretch, to cut her hair when she could
write. My mother is dying, she tried to
admit, or not dying but cancerous, done
with chemo now, on the mend, her golden
leaves not decaying, not softening beneath
an early snow. Her golden leaves glowing
on the silver living tree. She watered red
geraniums in the greenhouse or she forgot
and they kept flowering. Life conspired
against itself, but she lived it, hundreds
of branches nodding yes yes in the wind.
After a lifetime of furious intimacy,
she met her mother, a 102-pound
cancer patient. Size 3 jeans, those
lumps under her shirt, the portal
for drugs and the tube through which
she ate. Growing up her mother
mostly drank manhattans and bragged
about her daughter’s track records
over the phone. Now her throat
packed radioactive exacto blades.
Her bones switched to disposable
straws. She was so insubstantial she
was smoke before the cigarette touched
down. There was no one left to forgive.
Sunlight, the cool breeze, the long road.
Everyone likes a bike, she read again although
she put down the book — an exaltation
of bikes — although she put down that book
days ago. Again she saw Highway 4 laid out
before her like a long gray whale in an ocean
of green needles. She’d inferred earlier that
her bike was an annex of her mind, part
of her, a bigger part of her each time she
touched it and roamed. Much as a surgeon
is a perpetuation of objects that cleave us
apart and cleave us together, every tool
an ode to telepathy, even with feeding tubes,
anti-nausea meds, nearly empty panoramas.
Even in what’s called a flow state one must
sharpen, one must move, there is nothing
but the work. In a world of B.S. artists.
New bomb scare victims. Mothering, or
being mothered. What she wants is to live
in the span between moments. To fill space
without time. To lengthen without longing.
Consequently, therefore, hence. Antonym
of rhetoric, mobs, and terror. Of condense.
She found nothing impressive in a peak
of granite and hawks nor in the safety
of the bottom, but rather in persisting with
the inconvenient rocks. Even in mastery
one must grope for something to trust.
She’d read that by the time Magritte was 21,
five of his siblings and his mother were dead.
No, it wasn’t Magritte. But by the time
Magritte was 13, his mother had drowned
herself in a Belgian waffle. Obviously not.
By the time she remembered it was Kierkegaard,
it wasn’t Kierkegaard. Magritte also worked
for a wallpaper factory. But not yet. He also
was present when her body washed up near
their home. He also wasn’t present. Her white
dress wasn’t covering her face like an apple
or dove or cloth. He didn’t die immediately
from pancreatic cancer. He didn’t steal clouds
from the river. He wasn’t even Magritte