Monday, January 19, 2015

Aztecs

"If there are Aztecs in the hall,
lock the door
and hide your heart."

Such were the final writings of Anne-April Prilly
in 1967.

From that point on,
she did not write.
From that point on,
she seemed to have taken her own advice--
gazing blankly at the babies her friends continually had,
and failing to make the required noises.
"What about it?" she would say,
turning away and folding her arms
when offered an infant to exclaim over.

In 1967,
Aztecs could have been mistaken for hippies.
A search of Anne-April's hallway revealed nothing,
save for a newspaper, 
rolled up like a stethoscope on the parquet floor.

Through the unfortunate 70s and on into the 80s,
Anne-April remained unmoved.
Between her lungs, she tried keeping a sugar bowl,
but it was no use--
she was only hounded by collectors
who wanted complete sets, and not just the incidentals.

She also tried a plastic bear containing real clover honey,
but, nestled within Anne-April's warmthless bosom,
the honey spoiled
despite all assurances.

Finally, in 2006, Anne-April returned home,
using a skeleton key to get in.
She opened windows, bought art prints,
and even resumed writing. 
She tried to find her old friends, 
so that she could exclaim, if belatedly, over their children,
but the children were grown and scattered,
the friends wary, with medical alert devices around their necks
as if at any moment they might drop dead.

Naturally, Aztecs appeared once again in Anne-April's hallway.
Such dogged creatures!
She cracked the door and crooked a finger at one shirtless savage.
"In here, sailor," she said,
letting her robe slip off her shoulders.

She was old by then, but with angry gods to satisfy,
the Aztec wasn't sweating the details.
At least she had done her nails, fixed her hair.
Still, it was a dirty trick what she did next, snatching back her heart
with her last bit of strength.

Cradling it like a baby,
with bright red blood running down her forearms,
Anne-April was just glad to have found the thing she'd lost;
So glad, in fact, that she kissed the astounded illiterate brute
and meant it.
______

 

17 comments:

hedgewitch said...

This is quite a meal of both external savagery and inner personal trial--the imagery is just striking in several places; as always you use details to clarify and mystify and scarify at once. In particular, I loved:
"Between her lungs, she tried keeping a sugar bowl,
but it was no use--
she was only hounded by collectors
who wanted complete sets..."
I could quote more, but you know what you wrote. Really an excellent twisty and dual-edged piece, Shay

... said...

Crap, Shay. This may be the best poem I've ever read.

What on earth?! You blew my head off with this magnificence. Sheesh.

My absolute favorite was the way you described her efforts (the sugar bowl and honey jar) at trying to be a sweet, nice person, despite not truly feeling it. And then the way her heart came swooshing back at her many years later, in the arms of a savage, no less. Fantastic writing!

I love the name Anne-April for some reason ... that you hyphenated it, that it seems like one of those sweet down-south names ... and yet, she's anything but.

There must be some significance in the year 1967, since twice, you set "in 1967" apart on its own line.

I loved the way you brought it all back to the babies at the end, having her cradle her own heart ... as if her lack of warmth actually had to do with not knowing how to love herself in the first place. It can take a lifetime to figure that out and to finally take up companionship with some self-worth.

These are my favorite sections:

gazing blankly at the babies her friends continually had,
and failing to make the required noises
"What about it?" she would say,
turning away and folding her arms

save for a newspaper,
rolled up like a stethoscope on the parquet floor. (I love this hint that her heart will eventually be checked again and may be found beating properly after all.)

the honey spoiled
despite all assurances

using a skeleton key to get in

She cracked the door and crooked a finger at one shirtless savage.

Cradling it like a baby,
with bright red blood running down her forearms,

So glad, in fact, that she kissed the astounded illiterate brute
and meant it. (I love that she's a writer and he's illiterate. That's perfect!)

TexWisGirl said...

again, so much incredible imagery...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love her return home, the art prints, and, especially, the reclaiming of her heart.

Mama Zen said...

This is just brilliant.

Kenn Merchant said...

There is a very powerful story in all of what you wrote. I enjoyed the drama and climatic rising and falling till the end. Good thing she found what she was searching for after all that time. Some of us aren't nearly as lucky.

Cloudia said...

"She tried to find her old friends,
so that she could exclaim, if belatedly, over their children,
but the children were grown and scattered,
the friends wary, with medical alert devices around their necks
as if at any moment they might drop dead."


Yes! They all became grandparents! Retirees! Patients! Dead! OLD!

WE who show up after years, decades, have remained much as young as we were, un-mired from place, parents, children, roles, expectations, normal food......


I guess you stirred some s**** in me with this one...more Truth spoken with perfect diction as if tossed off in an absent minded tirade by a true poet.....Dylan T


ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
<3

Marcoantonio Arellano said...

you captured me in this one Shay. do you have some insight of me, Shay? April is my birthday month and i am aztec (born in la ciudad de Mexico). this piece captured much of me. gracias for exposing me to me.

other than this 'boggling' of my mind, this is superb

Kerry O'Connor said...

Why do I get the impression that this is a self-confession?
:-)
I love the imagery, both brutal and tender by turns, and the way the missing heart is cradled like a baby at the end.

Björn Rudberg said...

First of all the first sentence just pulled me in.. what an excellent way to tell a story. Good poetry is about stories and good stories are poetry. And yes emotions and loss described in an excellent way. Taking the lonely road has both advantages and disadvantages.

SuyashJ said...

there is so much power in this one poem

my heart's love songs said...

damn. it. anyway.

go fucking back to work already!

(well, don't actually go WHILE you're fucking, i can only imagine the Postmaster General would frown upon such behavior.)

Carrie Van Horn said...

"Between her lungs she tried to keep a sugar bowl" a line only Shay could have crafted. Amazing and gripping as always!!

manicddaily said...

A wonderful story/poem, both terrifically inventive and somehow age-old. Really vivid and well done--witty and poignant--I agree with all the comments above- above all super-readable and engaging. K.

Gail said...

Great imagery. And what a wonderful recovery.

Susie Clevenger said...

Wow! What can I add to what so many have eloquently shared. This is as vivid a write of someone's personal demons that I have ever read.

Lolamouse said...

I absolutely love this poem! The imagery is fantastic, the story is captivating, and it leaves me feeling like I've been through a real experience.